Friday, September 17, 2010

Nobody knows how to ride a bike

My partner has had an especially discouraging bike week. Two cars honked at her, apparently protesting her mere presence on the road. One guy standing outside a bar heckled her with a patronizing "You need to get out of the road, sweetie." And this is all following the enormously frustrating debacle that was the Denver Diamond Dash.

At the end of the week, it seems as though neither motorists nor cyclists know what it means to bike safely and legally in this city.

Which is why it felt nice to see a little love and recognition from the Denver Police Department via twitter today.

Every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway shall be--

  1. Granted all the rights of a vehicle.

    Including the right to be on the road, to take the lane when sharing the lane will be unsafe.

  2. Subjected to all the duties of a vehicle

    Including the duty of not driving on the sidewalk, of observing stop signs and other traffic signals, of signaling turns.

As I commute, shop, and otherwise live my life, I carefully assert all the rights of a vehicle every day. But I do not always hold myself to all the duties of a vehicle. For example, I never come to a full stop at a stop sign unless I need to in order to avoid colliding with something. If traffic is clear, I might run a stop light.

It's inconsistent. And I should try to correct this. I know.

But it's hard. Because, for example, coming to a full, foot-on-the-ground stop at a stop sign is stupid when it is possible to proceed safely. This fact is recognized by the good state of Idaho. (Yes, what you commonly refer to as a "California Stop" is in reality an "Idaho Stop!")

Plus, there's the example set by our role models, betters, and superiors. This week, on my way to a meeting downtown, I was stopped at a red light at Sherman and Colfax.

While I was wondering how much debt the state might recover if we melted down and sold off that giant golden dome, I noticed a bike cop biking east on Colfax, up the hill, on the sidewalk.

I thought to myself, Huh. Bike cop on the sidewalk. Okay.

And then that bike cop scanned the cross-traffic on Colfax, deemed it sufficiently light, and then ran the red light and crossed the road.

I thought to myself, Huh. Bike cop just ran the red light. Okay.

I remained right where I was and continued to wait for the traffic signal to change before proceeding through the intersection.

Unlike some people.

I judged the officer in question. Hard. And I felt smug for a while about being more lawful than the law. But then I saw this little gem from Denver Cruisers.

[Citation Needed]

I don't know what this claim is based on, or what it is in reference to, but now according to some guy on the internet, Mister Bike Cop was okay to ride on the sidewalk. But not necessarily to run the red light? I'm not sure.

What's a fella to do?

No comments: