Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Per-spec-tive. What an odd idea.

In reading online discussion threads in varying places, I've come to realize that people are generally kind of hostile towards bicyclists. I'm not sure why this is, really; bikers are sort of the on-road equivalent of a high school marching band. Annoying, but rarely fatal.

I ride my bike to work every day (a round trip of all of 8 miles), and I follow most of the rules, most of the time. I do occasionally run a red light, but that's usually because some dickhead construction company has blocked off the sidewalk, the bike lane (in the rare instance that there is one), and the right-most lane of traffic, leaving me with a partially blockaded single lane to share with the Hummers, the SUVs, the concrete trucks and the FedEx guy who apparently truly believes I'd be fabulous as a hood ornament. If I wait dutifully with the cars, I have to squeeze over into the nine milimeters the construction workers have kindly left me and hope that there's no pothole that will grab my front wheel and send me under the wheels of the car that's about to graze me with its passenger-side rear view mirror anyway. If I jump the light, I can get a head start on the construction zone, and usually, be out of the way before the cars get there. And sometimes I just want to be a scofflaw bastard and jump the light because I can.

Generally, I side with the bikers. We are a fragile bunch, invisible to the women daubing their eyelashes with mascara or the men trying to read terribly important documents laid out on the steering wheel or the drivers of both sexes who mistakenly believe that THEY can drive while talking on the phone. While drivers are rarely actually aiming for us, it can sometimes seem like they are. And drivers who don't ride really don't understand that a bike coming down a hill can reach speeds of 35+ miles an hour. They cut us off, in a hurry to make a right-hand turn, no malice intended, but plenty of ignorance.

HOWEVER. Most of the hostility that I see on the Internet is directed at the crowd of bikers I refer to as "The Jersey Boys." You know the guys: lean haunches like some sort of African impala; brightly colored jerseys that claim the rider is generously sponsored by elite, athletic companies like Nike, PowerBar and Maytag; sunglasses that wrap not only around their heads but halfway down their bodies with a lap around their nearly non-existant buttocks; arrogant expressions of the kind normally worn by Dick Cheney. I gotta side with the non-bikers on this one. I hate these guys.

Their bikes cost as much as three times more than my car. They are very very fast and very very rude about it. They have great disdain for my pathetic peasant-bike that cost a mere $450 and is now *sniff* ooooooold. They pass me with a whooshing sound that I swear is actually haughty, and they don't give me enough room, which makes me want to stick things in their spokes. They like me on their roads even less than they like cars--I give bikers a bad name with my stopping-at-stop-signs and panting-while-biking-up-steep-hills nonsense. I and other commuters are an embarrassment to the biking community. I mean, dear god, my jersey has no names!

I'm sure there are nice Jersey Boys out there. It's probably the $800 sunglasses that make them seem pompous and annoying. But if any of them are reading this post, dude, please reign in the attitude. Or the next tire that crosses your face may just be mine.