Friday, October 17, 2008

It's All About the Sign

I like my city. I really do. One of the things nicest things is how bike-friendly it is. The people who study these things say that only Davis, CA does better.

Sure, there are stupid motorists. And when you're driving a couple tons of Detroit or Osaka iron stupidity can be fatal. About half a dozen bicylcists die every year in traffic accidents, especially when they are in the bike lane while a clueless motorist decides to turn right.

Some are due to the price of fuel. Every hike in the price of gas puts scores of newbies on the road.

But a lot are just plain irritiating. There's a special breed of Portland cyclist who feels smug in his (usually his) moral superiority and decides that the rules of the road don't apply to him. Or maybe the combination of testosterone and True Goo affects brain chemistry in mysterious non-linear ways. Every day I see people on two-wheelers going the wrong way down one-way streets, riding fast on sidewalks, running stop signs or red lights, turning left across four lanes of traffic in busy intersections or otherwise getting membership points in Future Hood Ornaments of America. They seem to have a special aversion to reflective tape, bright colored clothing and lights and save their most erratic riding for nights.

I used to get mad. But then I remembered the traffic sign. I come from Eastern Washington where they grow a lot of wheat and a lot of beef. The government puts up road signs. You can't predict where the cow is going to be or what it's about to do. The cow doesn't know any more than you do.

Life gets less stressful once you realize that a lot of bicyclists are pretty much the same.

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