I open with the caveat that I understand that pedestrians and drivers have their own complaints about bikers not obeying laws. However, I have noticed that there is often a rush to blame the cyclist in an accident even though when a big truck/car/something motorized is involved I think greater responsibility falls with the operator of the 2 ton (possible) killing machine. In any event, I recognize that I myself ride through stop signs and red lights (after making sure it’s clear) and that some folks may call that dangerous despite my feeling that I am very alert about my surroundings.
With that being said, I have stated before that I am an angry biker and it’s because I feel there generally isn’t enough awareness of the many other people using the city’s services and infrastructure. So here are my specific complaints. I start the list off short and think I may add to it every now and then when the mood strikes me…
- When pedestrians cross illegally without looking and almost run into me (probably sending me flying into traffic)
- Cars that race to the red light seemingly in an effort to get away from the bike, which scares them since they clearly don’t trust themselves to drive and SHARE the road, thus wasting lots of gas, emitting more pollutants that probably get into my lungs more than anyone else’s since my bike lane puts me right next to their exhaust.
- Scooters that park at bike racks (and fall over and spill diesel fuel all over my bicycle). Scooters are by law not treated the same as bicycles. They’re pretty much motorcycles (you need a motorcycle license to operate one). For that matter, people that drive their scooters up onto the sidewalks to park them or what not are completely breaking the law (just learned that on the local news).
- Scooters that use bike lanes. Bike lanes are for non-motorized bicycles. It is therefore a slow lane. Using this lane with a fast motor-powered vehicle can be really dangerous — especially when motorcycles and the like weave in and out of them, which I see in Capitol Hill all the time.
- When cars make right turns without signaling or even looking even when there’s a bike lane to the right. This creates what can be a deadly and tragic situation.
- When cars honk at me for riding in traffic when that’s what I’m supposed to do.
- Bicyclists that don’t wear helmets. It just makes me nervous for them since we don’t live in a country where other users of the transportation system are aware enough about cyclists…like in the Netherlands where most people don’t even wear helmets because of the level of awareness (and maybe slow city traffic).
- Bicyclists that ride on the sidewalk really fast.
- Pedestrians that don’t know how to share paved trails (walk in the opposite direction that the cyclists are supposed to be going in).
- Runners that use the bike lanes. Cyclists shouldn’t have to go really slow in a bike lane and shouldn’t have to swerve into traffic to avoid runners (who often have earbuds plugging up their hearing and thus can’t hear me when I yell that I’m coming up behind them).
- Cars and trucks that use bike lanes as shoulders — they are not for temporary parking!!
I needed to get some of this out. I know I make mistakes all the time, but often it seems like people don’t realize they shouldn’t be doing certain things…and so I see the same people in my neighborhood doing the same annoying and dangerous things…
Lastly, I have a basic complaint in that I wish there were no cars in the city. While I have a lot of complaints about pedestrians and scooters, they just don’t carry the same weight with me as when car drivers operate their vehicles dangerously — or oblivious to cyclists, which may be worse.