No share! Mine!

"Share the Road", "Be kind to cyclists", "Thank you for not killing me with your car". I'm accustomed to seeing these and similar bumper stickers around Austin along with articles in the local paper proclaiming the rights of cyclists. On occasion I AM one of those cyclists, daring to ride the open road side-by-side with my motor vehicle friends. I just love the jokers among them who think it's funny as hell to blast their horn just about the time they overtake you. Oh, yeah. That is so HILARIOUS (insert snarky sarcastic laugh here).

Austin is a cycling town. Whether we have Lance Armstrong to thank for that, our lovely weather, our eclectic, earth-loving population, or a city that is relatively willing to build bike lanes into a fair number of public roads I do not know. But I do know this. One need not travel far in Austin to see someone on a bike. Even a thong-wearing cyclist is a common sight 'round town. (Side note to say I spied him again last week wearing a hot pink thong and towing a little trailer behind his bike...he looked so incredibly happy. And tan.)

But here's my question. When is it too much? Too dangerous? Not just for the cyclist but for other traffic. Three reasons why I ask...

1) As I was making a trip into the netherworld of north Austin yesterday I was driving north on a major thoroughfare traversing a wide expanse of greenbelt area on a long bridge. This bridge has no bike lanes. And yet. There in the right lane of the bridge is a cyclist, pedaling his enlarged heart out, professional-looking jersey unzipped and flapping in the 102 degree heat. Not hovering near the shoulder, but right out there in the middle of the lane. Moving along at a pretty good cycling clip of about 25 mph, I'd guess. But the rest of traffic is moving at 65. Therefore, people are having to slam on their brakes, swerve into other lanes, etc...to avoid hitting this guy.

2) Article in today's paper. Quick story. Cyclist hit from behind, driver flees the scene. Guess who has the serious injuries?

3) Upon leaving downtown Austin today at rush hour, on arguably one of the busiest, narrowest downtown streets (west 6th street for you Austinites), a man on a bicycle, in the far left lane (it's a one way street), just pedaling along like he doesn't have a care in the world and he doesn't even have a helmet on his melon head. Once again, cars slamming on brakes, moving haphazardly into other lanes. He's pedaling along, whistling a happy little tune in his head.

SO, I hate to be a hater, but really. There has to be a limit. I understand they have the right to travel how they see fit. I understand they even have the right to put their own lives in serious jeopardy if they choose. I absolutely do want to be a cycling advocate. I hope I don't make any enemies of my cycling buddies with this post. But these two scenarios put dozens of people at risk, just during the brief time I was in their vicinity. Cyclists need to exercise good judgment and be good sharers too. Sometimes that might mean taking the road less traveled.


Jamie said...

Good post. Don't know what the solution is. More bike lanes? Less nuts in thongs? It's all too scary for the cyclists and the motorists!

CCC said...
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