edit: Impromptu Critical Mass: There will be an impromptu critical mass event tomorrow, April 10th, at 6 pm starting at Beaumont tower on MSU campus, to protest Zack Colman's column. Join us.
Cyclists are hated, no doubt about it. We hold up traffic from reaching the next red light. We go too fast, or maybe too slow. We cross intersections unexpectedly and run red lights. Generally speaking, we make life a living hell for those humans smart enough to get behind the wheel of a 2-ton car and drive the 3.5 miles to their next destination.
Just ask this guy. He's an opinion columnist for the State News, and it's his belief that all cyclists belong on the sidewalks and out of his way, while he's sipping a latte and changing radio stations in his awesome 2001 Saturn SC2. If he has to run us over to get where he's going and pronto, then so be it. Why, we're riding on the road, and obviously we don't belong there, since we can't go 70 miles an hour down Farm Lane like he can.
Truth be told, I ride on the road whenever possible, and for many reasons. Most people think it's because riding on the sidewalk is inconvenient, which is true. It's a pain riding around pedestrians, trying to navigate without hitting, much less annoying, someone whose rightful place is truly on the sidewalk.
But for me, the reason for riding on the road is safety. You are nearly invisible when riding on the sidewalk, and when the time comes to cross a roadway or driveway, traffic is not going to slow down, even when it's your turn to cross. Plenty of cyclists have been hit and killed by cars turning left or right into them while they used a crosswalk. Drivers simply do not look for you to cross there. At least in the road you are in plain sight, and if that means inconveniencing a few people on their way to get their oil changed, then so be it. When seen, you are less likely to be hit.
Even on the road you have to be careful, and expect cars to do the unexpected. Many cyclists have different ways to be seen on the road: some ride like they're invisible, dodging cars, weaving and swerving like a madman to avoid being hit. Some are patient, obeying all traffic laws as if they were driving a car. Some are moving light shows, with blinking red lights, reflective vests, and flags attached to the rear wheel. My advice is to simply be aware of your surroundings, and ride defensively. Know that, in any given battle between car and bicycle, the bike will lose. Also, use the right of way with sensitivity to the situation. Better alive and wrong, than dead and right.
Now that the weather is sunny and warm again, I look forward to seeing the streets full of bicycles like salmon clogging a stream. Good luck, and keep the rubber side down.
Sunset & cloud shadows over West Bay
10 hours ago