Monday, July 16, 2007

Get the Hell Out of My Way: The Bicycle Chronicles

You know, I think what I might do is just keep writing these whiny "here's how you should act to not irritate me" lists. If you'll remember, a little while back I wrote about how much I enjoy the hell out of coffee dispensaries which serve food to keep from being boring (read: diners). In it, I wrote a kind of passive-agressive "Hey waitress, you're awesome and everything but please with the more coffee now" list of directions for action.

I'm not going to diners so much in the past few weeks, primarily because the sweet, sweet taste of ever more coffee has been outweighed by the pleasure of sitting in an air conditioned apartment, playing Megaman and NHL 06 and yelling obscenities at people in Italy, Mississippi, South Carolina and New Zealand. Plus, going to the diner requires actually walking to the diner, and I am frequently in this strange thing called pain. On these strange things i've never noticed that are evidently "leg muscles". Who knew. Which leads into what I'm not so happy about at the moment. I've been biking to and from work almost every day. It's got the upside that I have heard it's healthy to bike twenty miles a day, but the downside that I've had to resort to taking like six hundred showers per day. This post, then, is addressed to everyone in Chicago who might actually come into contact with someone on a bicycle. So all of you. I'll break it down though.

Fellow Cyclists:

1. I understand. You're a sixty-year old woman, or you're three hundred pounds, or you're trying to cruise along on the Lake Shore Drive parallel path on some kind of ridiculous mountain bike with tires as wide as my apartment and more shock absorbers than a dune buggy. That's great. Biking is fun. But please, if you're going to be going slow enough that you're being passed by families pushing strollers and empty Miller Lite cans being blown along by the wind, be good enough to stick to the far right of the lane you're in. Far too many of you ride the center line, meaning I've got to go at least to the center of the oncoming traffic lane to avoid clipping you. Often times, this is impossible because there's, you know, oncoming traffic, and so I've got to stop entirely so as not to wreck into you. It's annoying. Cut it out.

2. For those of you that aren't observant, the path along the lake that stretches from approximately 5700 N to freakin' Alabama is marked kind of like those road things you may have seen. If you've gone further north than Ardmore, certainly as you are relegated to one of those mysterious road things at that time. If you're really observant, you'll notice that it's slightly narrower than those road things. The width of the lane is roughly the size of a large green truck that has "Parks and Recreation" on the side of it. The lesson? Stop riding like four abreast. Your frriends are riding with you. Great. But you're blocking up like 70% of the road and it's impossible to pass you if you're going the same direction as I am and it's impossible to get far over enough without running off the road to avoid you if you're coming towards me.

In-line Skaters:

1) You and I are of a kind. We're both using wheeled transport to get us to our destination or for exercise (though seriously I doubt that I'd be doing this if it weren't quicker than the freaking train; more on that later). I've done some inline skating in the past. I'm familiar with the concept. From what I've experienced, I'm not sure you need to make your pushing-off-with-your-skates width the same width as the lane. But that's ok. I can deal with that. When your effective width is one and a half lanes, you're in my way, and that makes me surly.


1) Pay attention, dammit. Don't go bounding across the bikepath without looking. Would you do this on Lake Shore Drive? No, you wouldn't. or at least, you haven't, as evidenced by the thing where you're still alive. Why on earth is that cool just because the vehicles on the road are smaller and less stable?

2) "On the right." or "On your left". Those are things that people commonly shout ahead to warn you that they're coming and they're going to pass you either on your left if you're a normal person or on your right if for some reason you're skipping around on the far left of the path. If you hear this, do not walk into the direction that was indicated. Similarly, don't stop and turn around to look at me. You can look over your shoulder, I promise. And the drastically changing your course in a way counter to the information you've been given just makes it more likely that I have to swerve to miss you because you didn't believe me when I said I was coming up on you.

3) These roads and sidewalks and paths and things have a finite width. Cool that you've got an entourage of thirty goddamn seventeen year olds, but if you could not so much with the all walking side-by-side thing. It's annoying.

4) Leave the garbage there. I'm not going to wreck if I hit it, but I will wreck if you jump in front of me to get it and I have to swerve to avoid hitting you because you're eighty and will snap in two if touched.


1) Don't honk at me. I know I'm slower than a car, and I would be going faster if the roads were actually, you know, paved and if the mirrors on SUVs didn't stick out seven feet from the car. So I know I'm inconveniencing you for thirty seconds. I'll get out of your way as soon as there's somewhere for me to go. But if I'm without an exit and you're still honking at me because you're a prick, I reserve the right to catch up to you at the next light (because you will have to stop in the next two minutes because lights and traffic are freaking nuts) and break your windshield with my bike lock.

2) None of this thing where you play gracious and we do this "You go. No, you go." shit. Either go or don't. If you go, that's fine, but this "I'll move forward three feet then realize there's a cyclist coming at me and stop in the middle of the intersection which helps no one and why is he screaming and waving that bike lock around" has got to stop.

3) If I'm passing you, it means you're going too slow.


1) It takes, as of right now, given where I live, about one hour twenty minutes door-to-door by bus or by the Red Line. The purple line cuts that down to one hour. Riding my bike, it takes about 50 minutes. This is not ok. I'm on a bike, powered by cola and poorly made hamburgers and frozen flavored applesauce. You're a train. You're faster. We settled this in 1840. Act your speed.


1) Why can't you not have flat tires once in a while? Also, please be powered by some kind of motor soon. And actually be enclosed. Have four wheels. The sooner you can be a car, the happier we'll all be.

Also, this appears to be Post Two Hundred. Good for that.

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