OK, I am about to do so something I NEVER do on here: I’m about to complain.
Yes, I know, I complain about calories and weight and dieting all the time… but I mean a REAL complaint about someone/something outside of myself.
I’m going to complain about bicyclists.
Now, before you get really upset and go on a tirade against me (and lead a protest outside my house or something equally prolific and unnecessary), let me expound and clarify.
First, I am an avid cyclist. I have a hybrid bike that I use both for commuting and for leisure. If I were willing to get up at 5am, I’d probably join one of those mob-biking groups that travels across the state for their morning exercise, but I’m not that much of a masochist.
What I have a problem with are the cyclists that seem to think they’re the ONLY people who exist.
I took my puppies for a walk this morning. I was on the sidewalk, heading away from my house. Since I had a headache, I was trudging along at a slow pace – maybe under 3 mph. From behind me, I hear someone shout (what I thought was), “Mike!”
Since my name isn’t Mike, I kept my eyes forward and continued walking.
A moment later, “Hey! MIKE!”
Again, I kept walking forward, assuming someone was shouting in the construction zone along side me or that I really needed to consider more feminine pajamas since I really might be getting mistaken for a man. My boy puppy, Taquito, yanked toward the right and I finally heard the tell-tale sounds of wheels whirring.
“LADY – I said BIKE!”
I practically jumped out of the way as a man in his late 50s/early 60s whipped by on a road/race bike going at LEAST 25mph on the sidewalk, nearly plowing me over.
This is where my complaint lies. I’m all for leisure and exercise on a bike. I’m all for SHARING the road AND the sidewalk, a unique priviledge that cyclists are entitled to (in addition to the fact that my community ALSO offers personal bike lanes). But if bicyclists want pedestrians and cars alike to share, they need to be willing to adhere to the same rules and laws that we do.
Notice the operative word in SIDEWALK.
Walk. Meaning, those on FEET take priority.
Here’s an excerpt from the Florida Department of Transportation regarding sidewalk usage for PEDESTRIANS:
Florida prohibits pedestrians from walking on a road paved for vehicular travel when a sidewalk is provided. This includes those using roller skates, skateboards or any wheeled toy. Further, pedestrians cannot stand in the road to solicit a ride, employment or business from drivers. If there is no sidewalk–or if the sidewalk is impeded by encroaching vegetation, vehicles, ditches or hazards–you should walk along the curb or shoulder of the road. You should walk on the left side so as to face traffic coming from the opposite direction. If you’re walking on a sidewalk, you are required to obey traffic control , such as red lights and crossing signals, unless law enforcement directs you otherwise. You should only enter the roadway in areas designated as crosswalks. If at all possible, use the right side of the crosswalk. If you do leave the sidewalk without a crosswalk, you should take the shortest route across the road, at a right angle to the sidewalk. Though cars must yield right-of-way to you, law prohibits you from leaving the curb or sidewalk and walking or running in the path of vehicles, suddenly enough to make it impossible for them to yield to you.
While I will admit that this morning’s cyclist did give an audible signal (“Mike! Mike!”), he most certainly did not yield to a pedestrian. The area I walked was a small sidewalk alongside a BIKE LANE and a nearly deserted road. I (along with a lady pushing a stroller further down the sidewalk) was forced to jump into the dew-laden grass so that a cyclist going above the posted speed limit (this area of the neighborhood has a strict 20 mph on the road) could pedal down the 26-28 inches of cement allocated for those rocking their pajamas on an early Wednesday morning.
I know this two-wheeled entitlement syndrome is not exclusive to my neighborhood, as I see bikers run stop signs and fail to yield the right of way almost every time I’m outside. Personally, I wear a helmet, exercise both hand and auditory cues to notify fellow drivers/bikers/pedestrians of my actions on my bike, and I always pull into the grass when I share the sidewalk with anyone, including other cyclists.
I don’t want it on my conscience if I hit someone’s child or pet due to my failure to yield and I certainly don’t want to turn into a smear on someone’s windshield because it’s too much trouble to stop at a stop sign; I only wish all cyclists did the same. Perhaps this is an epidemic limited to the Central Florida area, but disengaged and entitled cyclists seems to be the norm here and create a bad stigma for those of us trying share the road.
So here’s my plea: if you’re a bicyclist–whether for recreation, transportation, or because your bum has been welded onto a two-wheeled contraption–please don’t be a douche-canoe (it’s a real word, I swear).
Obey all traffic laws. Yield to peds.
And wear a helmet (because someone out there loves the mass floating around in that ol’ noggin of yours even though you’re wearing spandex shorts at least two sizes too small).
OK, end of rant. 🙂
On that note, bon appetit my friends!