Tag Archives: bikes

Fives Rules for Bicyclists

1). Bike with the flow of traffic, not against it. Sure, it’s nice to know when there’s a car coming, instead of having them sneak up from behind it, but you’re also a 180-pound guy riding two wheels on a small metal frame without a helmet. And when you terrify the driver of the car by heading straight at him and he swerves the car in panic and accidentally drives right into you, you’re still a 180-pound guy riding two wheels on a small frame without a helmet. Except now, you’re not only dead, you’re a dumbass.

    1a). Biking the wrong way down the bike lane  when there are (1) directional arrows painted on the pavement specifying the direction in which you are supposed to be biking, and (2) other bicycles going the correct  way down the already-narrow lane — which means they are also heading straight at you and oh yeah if you swerve into the next lane to avoid them you’re going to ride straight into the headlights of an oncoming car — is, well, also pretty stupid.

2). The Idaho Stop is a wonderful new concept, wherein bicyclists adhering to state regulated traffic laws are allowed to treat Stop signs as Yield signs, and red lights as Stop signs.

    Things this means: bicyclists are allowed to continue through a stop signs without making complete stops, only if they are certain there is no other traffic coming. Bicyclists are also allowed to continue through red lights, only after coming to a complete stop and making sure that there is no oncoming traffic from the cross street that currently has the green light.
    Things this doesn’t mean: Whatever fuck those cars anyway man I’m on a bike dude I can totally kick your ass and blow a perpendicular path through six lanes of traffic during rush hours ’cause those stupid cars are gonna stop for me anyway and I don’t care if they have to slam on their brakes or whatever and totally get rear-ended by the guy behind them because he thought they were going ’cause I’m on a fucking bike with a fixed gear and no protection whatsoever so obviously I have the right of way and all you stupid polluting dumbass cars should stop for me anyway ’cause you’re stupid and stuff stupid cars

3). Helmets. They totally fuck up your mohawk, amirite? Just like splitting your skull open on the pavement and having your brains smeared under vulcanized Good Year tires then wiped off like road kill and tossed into a grassy ditch next to the freeway.

Totally sucks, brah.

4). There is nothing wrong a leisurely bicycle stroll on a quaint and lovely Sunday afternoon. There is everything wrong with a leisurely bicycle stroll down the middle of the designated bicycle path with no way to get around you on either side when I’m trying to get to work right now, asshole. There is even more than everything wrong with doing this on a major road without bike lanes during commuter rush hour when I’m stuck behind you and surrounded by a gazillion angry cars with blaring horns of destruction.

    4.5/2). It’s okay to bike at a moderate pace. I realize that not everyone has the same incredibly toned calves that I do. And I do appreciate your efforts to keep to the right and allow me to pass you, like I did on the last block. But see how I’m stopped at a light right now? Oh — wait, no, you just blew through the light and zipped right past me. That’s okay, I’ll just pass you again on the next block, because you’re slow as hell and it’s easy for me to catch up with you. Oh, look! Here I am, stopped at yet another light like a good bicycle. Why, hello there, friend that that I have already passed twice in the last 3 blocks! How are you? Oh, nevermind, you just biked right past me and ran through another red light and caused a three-car pile-up.

    And here I am, passing you again, because even when you’re endangering the lives of others, you’re still fucking slow.

5). But seriously? DON’T BE A DICK.

One Less Car

This past Sunday, the Boston Globe ran an article titled, “What cyclists neglect” that, as a cyclist myself, caught my eye. The author takes the stance that cyclists, “want more respect on the road. They need to earn it” (as the tagline reads) — a position which, for the most part, I agree with. There is one thing that he neglects to consider, however:

Everybody hates a bicyclist.

Come on. Admit it. You’ve driven in a city/The City and gotten nervous/pissed because of the tiny two-wheeled asshole hugging the shoulder. And for no good reason. As anyone who commutes on a bike in an urban setting can attest, it’s scary as hell out there; you’re constantly on the defensive. If you’re in a car, well, you’ve got a 2 ton chunk of metal to keep you safe. On a bike? Not so much. You see, no one in a car has ever been killed by a bicycle.

Let’s take the first accident I was ever in (which was, by law, entirely her fault for switching lanes without looking): my pedal got stuck in the body of the car, and I managed to tear off her front bumper when I finally shook myself loose. She then proceeded to (1) roll her window down (2) flip me the bird (3) yell “Fucking asshole!” (4) drive off into the sun, leaving me lying on the ground under my bicycle in the middle of Harvard Square at rush hour. Sure, she had maybe $300 worth of autobody damage, which sucks, I understand. Me? I had to go to the emergency room, get a new bike, and then continue to see a chiropractor three times a week for a year and a half (paid for by me, because she hit and run). Good thing I was wearing a helmet, or I probably wouldn’t have lived to write this rant.

You’re probably about to blurt out something to yourself while you read this alone in your bedroom or at work like “Whatever! This one time, a bicyclist just tore through a red light, and I had to slam on my brakes! I almost got rear ended!” or “This stupid bicycle almost killed me when I was walking down the sidewalk the other day!” in which case my heart goes out to you for enduring such an awful tragedy and I hope that your therapy sessions cost less than my chiropractor. But you are correct; there are some lousy, ignorant, unsafe bicyclists out there. I see ’em. I hate ’em. Especially the ones who bike on the sidewalk down the Mass Ave bridge even though there’s a bike lane RIGHT FUCKING THERE. But just because those guys are jerks, doesn’t mean you have to take it out on me. I have a right to ride my bike, and the law requires me to be on the road, so deal with it. I’m not trying to make your life difficult; I’m trying to survive. It’s tough when you’re constantly on the defensive, constantly risking your life, but if you look out for me, I’ll look out for you. Cool? Cool.

(Similarly, I implore you to stop walking on the Southwest Corridor Bike Path. You have your own parallel sidewalk not 10 feet away! There are so few bike paths as is, so at least let us enjoy the ones we’ve got, and stop getting mad and yelling at me when I nearly crash into your stupid blob of children after yelling “EXCUSE ME!” at you for the last 2 blocks in a futile attempt to avoid this exact problem. Asshole.)

London Calling – The Clash

The bike ride back from the record store in the summer of 1998 was quite possibly one of the most invigorating and influential of my life. Middle school was full of musical discovery in the form of the “Compilation” section of Music Box, your typical privately owned record store with the bare minimum of obscure selections. On this fateful day in July, I would slip a CD into my well used and slightly damaged Discman, throw on my backpack and jump on my bike. The CD spooled up and my headphones filled with a strummed bass line followed by the booming reverb of the drums. The song skipped, stuttered and exploded into a fast paced ballad about an aging Punk-Rock band longing for the days of basement shows, friends, cheap meals and beds disguised as hard-wood floors. I was 14 and knew I could experience what they longed to re-live, and with that knowledge I rode my bike home, sat down at my father’s drum set and began my suburban punk-rock adventure.

This music was new and fresh to me, a surefire way to rebel against my parents by using a weapon they couldn’t understand. This music was fast, equally serious and satirical while toeing the line between harmony and hollering. I had spent years previously listening to music my father had played with his band, listened to in his car and in the house on his stereo. This new music was obscure, something I would have to painstakingly explain to my father, something he might never understand…so I thought.

Summer passed and 8th grade started. I came home after a long after school bike ride spent loitering downtown searching for benches to grind and friends who might have a better idea on how to occupy idle time. I walked in to the familiar sight of my father sitting on the couch in his postal uniform after a long day at work. In a bag next to his foot rested two records against the leg of the coffee table. Through the thin plastic I could see the familiar image of Paul Simonon smashing his bass guitar in front of a stack of amplifiers. My father proceeded to pull out both records. One was London Calling by The Clash and the other was Elvis Presley’s first LP. Both layouts were exactly the same, pink and green letters lining the left and bottom of the frame with an image of the artist in the center. My father used this to explain the term “influence” Basically, music is just a fast paced evolution which is influenced heavily, if not entirely on ideas which have already been previously conceived. I still spent my high school years heavily into Punk and Hardcore, but my father made sure I knew there were only two kinds of music, good music and bad music.

Alternately, here is a little fun fact. One of my father’s favorite musicians was the drummer for The Clash. He also thought “Topper Headon” was a badass name.