May 16, 2008

The real trouble with an initiative like Bike Week is that people see it as a novelty. For a five-day period each May, people in major metro areas make a fuss about pollution and the environment by taking to two wheels for a day or two.

This is a joy for everyone because it fills the streets with people who don’t know how to pilot a bike, litters the lanes with uncoordinated boobs who don’t understand biking and traffic laws, and stifles the flow of traffic with self-righteous morons who think they’re now going to heaven because they balanced their way to the office on one out of 250 work days.

I’m not against people trying new things, but if you’re going to make a commitment and try to make a difference start at home. Maybe you should stop dropping your 14-year old kid off a the bus stop in the morning and letting your Escalade idle for 20 minutes.

Here in Boston, the city has established a bunch of treats for the wannabe bike commuters. They’ve set up water and food stops, lunch areas and even mechanical assistance in communities all around metro-Boston.

This is great if you’re commuting for nine minutes from Cambridge to Back Bay. But what about the real difference-makers? I’m talking about the guy who rides from Cohasset or Scituate to the Financial District. Or the people who ride their bikes to the T and then use public transportation to get to their destination.

Those are the people who deserve rewards. And the best part is that the know the laws regarding bike travel.

Here’s a refresher rant…


You are not supposed to ride on sidewalks, against the flow of traffic or in crosswalks. If you are riding a bike on the street, you have a right to take up a lane if you are going the speed limit or if you are keeping up with the flow of traffic. You are supposed to obey ALL traffic signals.

Now, practice and theory are two different things, and we all see bike messengers and college students racing the wrong way down one-way streets and blasting through red lights. But that’s an issue for Darwin. In most cases these riders are also the same ones who aren’t wearing helmets.

If I were the Czar of Boston – and maybe Mumbles should do something about this – I would start enforcing two things in the city. Bicycling laws and jaywalking laws.

Because right now there’s a huge dichotomy between cagers (people in cars) and everyone else. And if we all were subject to the same laws then we might have a more peaceful coexistence.

Until those things happen, bike week and any event that supposes to get more people out of their cars won’t be a friendly or effective happening.

And that’s what really makes this whole initiative weak.

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