Sunday, August 3, 2008

An Open Letter to the Cyclists of Portland

Dear Fellow Cyclists,

As a dedicated cyclist and resident of our fair city I have a couple of things to say to y'all. Please take this in the manner it is intended: outright and blatant criticism.

Too many of you are giving the rest of us a very, very bad name. You cry and moan that you get no respect, that you are constantly under attack and it's you versus the city. Guess what? You're absolutely correct. And you know what else? You have brought it on yourself. I am so fed up with the entitled attitude y'all bring to the table. Just because you cycle doesn't mean your shit doesn't stink or that you can walk on water. Believe me, your halo, er, aura is pretty much tarnished as well. After seeing my pedestrian friends nearly hit innumerable times yesterday, I almost feel ashamed to call myself a cyclist in this city.

Example 1: Thanks to the wonderful people at Trimet, we were walking across the Willamette via the Steel Bridge. Along with quite a few others. Yet there was a constant stream of cyclists trying to get across that way as well, some at a fair clip. Ringing a bell, shouting, "On your left!" as you zip past does not absolve you of the common courtesy expected of folks sharing the sidewalk. And getting an attitude about it makes it even worse. Either join the flow, get off and walk your bike when there is heavy pedestrian traffic, or, gasp...go another route!. It's not like there isn't any other way across the river.

Example 2: Don't expect to ride fast on the waterfront on a busy Saturday morning. When there is a festical about and thousands of people walking to it, bobbing and weaving in and out of people as you try to get there faster is a recipie for disaster. How about wising up and using the bike lanes on Naito instead? Or if you persist on using the boardwalk, slowing down, or walking like the rest of us?

Basically put, I am so incredibly tired of dealing with this bullshit. In our small group yesterday at the Flugtag, we had 3 near misses from cyclists inthe above examples. I guess the whole "Yield to pedestrians" is only a suggestion. How about thinking about waht may be hapening out in the city when deciding how to get to where you're going and choosing an alternative route to get there? There are more than a few ways to get across the river, other than the Steel Bridge. There are other ways down the waterfront than the boardwalk. If you ask me, there woldn't be such as rising backlash against cyclists if we took it upon ourselves to express the common courtesies of life.

Look, I'm no saint either. I run stop signs, turn without signaling and don't stop for pedestrians crossing my lane of travel. But if I'm headed out by bike to a large event, I'm not going to expect to be given the right-of-way over pedestrians. I'll find an alternative route and when the situation warrants it, walk the bloody bike.

To close this out, let me reiterate: just beacue you're on a bike doesn't make you any better than the next person. We're all in this together and a little bit of courtesy can go a long way to making our great city even better. Or, quit your bitching, you reap what you sow. Take whichever way you want.

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