BikeLane.jpgIt’s kind of a chicken/egg scenario when considering which came first: the asshole motorist or the asshole bike rider, but it’s pretty safe to say at this point they are all assholes.

While San Francisco’s public transportation and parking situations are certainly a good argument for bikes; chilly weather, mandatory exercise at 7am, and death are not.

Which puts us all in a weird situation. We hate bike riders, car drivers, Muni, and quite honestly, we hate pedestrians too. We’d like to all stay in our apartments and not have to travel anywhere during the day, but we need to get to our jobs running the world so that isn’t really a possibility.

The Guardian recently devoted its cover story to the plight of the bike rider in a city, which, from the tone of the article, is filled with Hummers piloted by demons. While it’s true that bicyclists, whose only protection is their skin and the helmet that they may or may not be wearing, will always come up short in a car fight, that doesn’t mean they are completely innocent in the Battle for Our Streets.

While it’s my understanding that the two wheels, free wheels, and trikes are supposed to behave like cars, it’s my observation that they do not, or at the very least they behave like very bad cars. They swerve around pedestrians in the crosswalk instead of stopping, go slower than the speed of traffic, and ride two by two like animals boarding Noah’s Ark.

Finally, they make unintelligible hand movements that literally mean nothing to the average motorist/pedestrian. What is crooked arm? Does middle finger mean ‘turn to the sky’?

I think we all understand by now that bikers are better people than motorists. They are cooler, fitter, care about the planet more, are more socially aware, prettier, smarter, better in bed, more creative, better at math, more likely to become president of the United States, really good at fencing, bilingual, able to hold their liquor, great writers, and just plain nice people.

In short they are the self-chosen ones, and as such, maybe everyone should look the other way when they make a mockery of street signs and crosswalks, like you might if you saw a nun chewing with her mouth open or going all crooked arm at a stoplight.

Or maybe we should just get some more designated bike lanes and look whichever way we want to.

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  • Nismodan

    “Crooked arm” and the other arm signals used by bicyclists are often the same ones required by all motorists. The ones they test you for when you do your first driver’s license test.
    That’s not to say that all cyclists use them, but all motorists should know them anyway.

    http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/hdbk/signaling.htm#signals

  • sammydavisjrjr

    I’m a little tired of people complaining about cyclists not stopping for stop signs and crosswalks. If there are peds in a crosswalk, I personally, will slow way down or stop for them. But let’s be realistic and understanding here. If you’re not taking someone else’s right of way, or getting in someone’s way, what’s the problem with it?
    Most people bend rules all the time when getting from point A to point B: people jaywalk, cyclists run lights, drivers speed, behave irrationally, and make illegal turns frequently. Everyone’s trying to get where their going, as quickly and efficiently as possible. And yes, people will break rules doing it. Let’s accept that fact, and try to keep moving.

    SF Bike Coalition is currently in the process of striping many miles of new bike lines. But even bike lanes in this city and country, are far from a perfect system. There was a stretch of 3 years where there was no bicycle infrastructure improvements, because a local [redacted homophobic term — EB] and his lawyer buddy made the city and SFBC do a ton of unnecessary research to determine if bike lanes were actually a step forward environmentally.

  • Eve Batey

    Watch it, sammydavisjrjr, you just violated our comments policy.

    You can make your points without using hate speech, I just know you can!

    And if not, well, there are places you can use a typically-derisively-intended term describing a person’s orientation (though it appears to be unrelated to your argument) as a descriptor, this just isn’t one of them.

  • biking dave

    I ride everyday and see cyclist jump lights ride the wrong way down streets and on sidewalks , this is wrong ,just plain wrong . If we as law abiding citizens want to be safe we must follow the same laws that car drivers do and if you don’t want to do that ,get off your bike and walk . Like a drivers license is a privilege so is riding a bike it is not your right to do what you want . Wear a helmet and be courteous , that is or should be the law of the land . I won’t be crying when one of you gets squashed because you failed to follow the laws of common sense .

  • Eve Batey

    My god people, be civil! Don’t say you want each other dead, don’t call each other names. Don’t make me come back there!

  • SFReader

    Articles like this are a big part of the problem. Making generalizations about cyclists (and drivers) is unfair to the people who do follow the rules and share the roads. I ride from point A to B multiple times a day and I see more cyclists and drivers obeying traffic laws than not, but no one seems to notice those people. Perhaps those who abide by the laws should start breaking the rules since you’re going to lump us in with the offenders anyhow. People ride bikes for different reasons, and many people ride for transportation because that’s all they can afford. To say we think we are better than everyone else ignores all of these other factors that make people decide to ride a bike for transportation.(And hey, it’s a free world and I can use whatever mode of transportation I see fit.) It’s classist and it fosters prejudice against people who have chosen other modes of transport over cars. Generalizations never get anyone anywhere. I’m really disappointed in this piece and in SF Appeal for publishing it.

  • Gardengnome

    Hi!

    Saw the authors response to a post on Cyclicious regarding this piece. and…yeah….it doesn’t work as she seems to have intended. Sarcasm is extrodinarily hard to do in plain text on the innernets.

    That said, don’t give up trying, just be ready that only people who read hearing your voice will get it.

  • Samantha Bell

    I thought this was funny. I mean I laughed out loud and I’ve never met Ramona so I got the sarcasm with out hearing her voice. Poking fun at the undeniable self righteousness of *some* bikers hasn’t gotten old for me yet. What’s not funny are the accidents that happen because we apparently can’t share the road. More bike lanes and a little humor could ease the tension between everyone, no?

  • Greg Dewar

    If you can’t understand the concept of sarcasm wit or irony or anything that requires the higher brain functions or requires you to think a little, loosen your helmet a little or stay off the internet. Angry extreme ideologues and joyless liberals will find nothing but tears otherwise.

    For all my friends who are awesome bicyclists (and my brother too) you are all good people and we non cyclists celebrate you as part of Our San Francisco Family.

    For all you jerks who ride on sidewalks, give the finger to pedestrians, cause traffic problems and have your snooty nose so high in the air you’re smelling the stratosphere, I simply say this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8B3Vqupy0U

  • Burgos

    Date : 08/18/2010
    Time : 11:50AM
    Place : Broderick Street @ Fulton

    I’ve been a cyclist, motorcyclist and car driver all of my life – longer than most of the commenters here, and I’ve always defended the right of cyclists to their use of the streets, but today, after way too many close calls on the street and on the sidewalks, cyclists have lost my advocacy.

    I was driving north on Broderick, approaching an already green light when a fast-moving cyclist – in shorts, t-shirt, no helmet on a fixie hauled ass thru the intersection. I missed him by a couple of feet and so did the guy going thru the intersection, headed south on Broderick. We both hit our brakes in time, otherwise the cyclist would have bought it.

    I drive like everybody else is drunk and it has served me well (thanks dad), but I’m done with irresponsibility. I’m angry at what I see everyday in the Wiggle, particularly what happens to pedestrians at Waller & Pierce, and I’m done with getting smirks and flip-offs from the entitled wheelers.

    Vehicle drivers in San Francisco are among some of the worst that I’ve ever seen, and that included Latin America and Europe. Immune delivery trucks (UPS, breweries, Comcast,etc.), drivers staring glassy-eyed at the newest killer gadget, the dash-mounted GPS, baby swatters, burrito eaters, nose pickers, women slathering on makeup in the rearview mirror, document readers, and the book-reading “multi-taskers”. But if cyclists don’t show some smarts, it’s only going to get more bloody and chaotic.

  • SF Bike Commuter

    I ride my bike to work most every day. On my way, I regularly run lights. Not in a dangerous way. I stop, look both ways, no cars? ok. go. I know it pisses off drivers. Sometimes people share this with me with loud colorful language. Whatever…

    Why do I do it? BECAUSE I CAN!! The SFPD does not enforce the law when it comes to bikes. I have literally run a red light right in front of a cop, and he did nothing (this wasn’t on purpose, I didn’t see him. He was stopped at the same light going the other direction, and it was early in the morning). If I did that in Sausalito, Ross, Larkspur, I would get a big expensive red light ticket.

    If the law is enforced, people will follow it. Red light tickets hurt. They bring a lot of money to the city. Sure, some people will still break the law, but at least there’s the threat of consequences. Right now, there is none.

  • renegade

    People are overly concerned about redlight cyclists. Probably overly concerned about a lot of trivial things.

  • emu

    I murdered a transient the other day, because, well heck, it’s not like Kamala Harris is going to prosecute me or anything! That totally makes it okay!

  • EJ

    I get why cyclists treat stop signs like yield signs, and it doesn’t particularly bother me….

    but, geez, stop riding on sidewalks already.

    I even see people riding on the sidewalk on Market Street, right next to the new green bike lane.

  • CyclistDriver

    Funny this should cause a commotion tonight.

    A scene of two cyclists on the Wiggle. Going west on Waller, approaching Pierce, I come to a stop sign. I stop. My brake actually squeaks a little (yeah, I know I need to get it fixed). Just as I start to go forward (I was going straight towards Scott), another cyclists flies past me, just missing clipping me. I slam on my brakes again, it squeaks a lot this time.

    Me: Dude!
    Jerk: Hey, it’s you’re fault, why did you stop?
    Me: Because it’s a stop sign!

    Jerk proceeds to run the stop sign at Haight as well.

  • CyclistDriver

    Oops. And proof you should always use the “preview” button. That scene happened last night.

  • sfboogie

    This article was amusing. Sometimes a lighter, sarcastic tone gets the point across just as much as a stuffy, analytical tone. The latter of which I can get at SFGate.

    The lack of consistency from one motorist/cyclist/pedestrian to the next is the issue. Rules & regulations are in place to provide for the safety of all parties. Knowing what those rules & regulations are helps people anticipate behavior and react accordingly. The more we are unable to anticipate the behavior – the more accidents that will occur.

    I am certainly no saint when it comes to being a motorist/pedestrian, but I hold myself accountable for my actions. If I make a right turn on a red light when prohibited – I accept that I may get a ticket in my attempt to get somewhere faster. However, the bottom line is that it’s not legal and I shouldn’t do it. Breaking the rules should be the exception and not the norm. Getting somewhere faster doesn’t mean a whole lot if it’s going to cost you your life or someone else’s life.

  • John Murphy

    If I were to open my mind and say “This is humor” – it fails anyway. But with my inherently closed mind – this piece poking fun at cyclists for doing all sorts of crazy things actually links to a story where someone went out and got wasted and ran over a cyclist – falls sort of flat. Not to mention the driver then drove off with him lying in the road. Then another motorist drove AROUND the dying cyclist lying in the road – perhaps this was an inherently selfish person, perhaps it was someone who knew they’d be up for DUI if they stopped.

    Cyclists faults are on display for all to see. The worst offense of motorists – not taking what they are doing seriously by being drunk, eating, texting, etc… are invisible. Until they tweet and drive off a cliff, or drive while on the cellphone and drive into a river.

  • emu

    Hey John, could I get your contact info? You seem like a really fun person to be around and I want to invite you to my next party!

  • DT

    Time to install cameras and cargo nets at stop signs. When bicycles do not stop, they are violating the California Vehicle Code and endangering others. I would be delighted to see some of these selfish brats try to extract themselves from nets.

    BTW, I neither drive nor ride a bicycle due to the permanent vision damage I received at age 7 when I was run over while on the sideWALK. Let us pedestrians have our sidewalks and lawful right to cross the street safely.

    If you are not up for this, I recommend that you miscreants be required to perform community service as a traffic cone for CalTrans on a freeway.