Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Ray is probably shaking his head...

Ray probably thinks I'm some kind of self-righteous hypocrite right now. As I zipped past Lenexa Road in the crosswalk on 87th Street, I called to him. All this talk about commuters on the sidewalk, and here I am. Putzing down the sidewalk like a pseudo-pedestrian on 87th.

Photo: This is what happens when all the bike rack slots are full on the front of the bus.

There's a catch, though -- I'd like to think there are things separating me from quite a few of the sidewalk cyclists I'm whining about this week:

  1. I completely shift my riding style on the sidewalk. I am a pedestrian, sacrificing my equal rights to the road. I don't enter intersections just because I have the right of way, and I trust no motorist without making eye contact.
  2. I use the sidewalk as a tool when I feel it's needed. That's not too often, but 87th street in the rain during rush hour, in my opinion, calls for it. Getting around a traffic jam is another time I'll hop up there.
  3. If another sidewalk user is present, I surrender to them, slowing or stopping, moving as far out of the way as needed, even if it means stopping on the grass. I do not have dominion of the sidewalk, and just as an SUV needs to be mindful of smaller vehicles such as Smart cars and bicycles, a bicycle on the sidewalk must be mindful of slower, more vulnerable users as well.
This is in stark contrast to those who bomb down the sidewalk with reckless abandon, expecting walkers to clear the way, motorists to stop on a dime, and all the while using the three-foot concrete thoroughfare as their preferred lane of travel. Those are the ones who piss me off.

Photo: Zipping down 85th street.

It's for this reason that I think sidewalk use should be discouraged but not outlawed. You just can't be a freaking moron about it. So, bring on the LCI crowd and hard-liner VC zealots; I've got my Nomex chamois on. You can't burn these buns, baby!

A little background: 87th street can be avoided entirely when I take the Antioch bus (which I took due to storms and winds gusting to almost 30 MPH). When it's raining, it's pretty easy to see why I'd opt for half a mile of riding with a "pedestrian mindset" over adding a mile and a half to my trip just so I can stay on a bike-friendly route.

As for Ray... Well, I'll be frank with you in saying I think he's got some Big Ones. He tackles 87th daily. I personally can't do it that time of day. I'll do it any other time of day, but not in morning or evening rush hour.

Photo: Goddard from the fender's perspective.

Nice to see ya on the road, Ray. Like I said, you were probably shaking your head in disbelief.


MRMacrum said...

Biking rules of thumb number 10 for me is - "When all the other rules do not fit the situation, do what seems to make sense." There are even brief moments when riding against traffic makes sense. I do what I have to to make my trip as safe and sane as possible.

If Ray knows you well enough, he will have figured this out.

Anonymous said...

Tonight in our Road 1 class we talked a lot about this type of thing. I won't tell any of my students to ride on the sidewalk but I talked a lot about riding in their comfort zone and picking streets with this in mind. It's different for us, we don't have the magnitude of traffic you deal with. Columbia is laid out in a basic grid so it's always easy to find an alternate route. I admire you "city folks" that ride in amazing traffic every day.

Noah said...

I like Mr. Macrum's "Rule #10". That seems quite eloquent. I suppose, however, all the cyclists I see seem to be doing what makes sense to them. Left to one's own devices, I think that can be somewhat dangerous. Like you'll see in my morning post (coming shortly), I give folks advice once or twice, then I leave them be. There's not much else I can do.

Anonymous said...

As long as you're not endangering pedestrians, use the sidewalk when it makes sense to do so. I do.

Noah said...

The exception being pedestrians with dogs on mile-long retracting leashes. I shall endanger them (and their little dog, too!) as often as I please.

Ray Craighead said...

I was surprised to see you on 87th street yesterday, but I don't judge anyone who chooses to use the sidewalk on that bridge. It can be quite hairy. I just feel safer in the flow of traffic.

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