Thursday, November 14, 2013

Respect: Don't expect to get it

I'm a regular reader of Bike Snob NYC. And by 'regular' I mean daily. It's been quite some time since I've missed on of his installments. The content doesn't always thrill me, since it's sometimes pretty NYC-specific, but his blog is hilarious and profoundly enjoyable. Every once in a while, BSNYC moves away from his usual cutting sarcasm and into the realm of all out railing. This is what happened earlier this week in a post titled 'Shafted Again'. I recommend giving it a once-over.

A couple of my favorite passages include this gem:
It's impossible, and in fact downright stupid, to "obey the letter of the law" on your bicycle when you find yourself in a situation where the streets and the laws are designed specifically for cars, which describes most of the United States.  Moreover, it's gone way, way past the point where cyclists should need to prove to the very people who are fucking us (that's drivers and police officers) that we "deserve respect."  We deserve respect for being human, and it ends there. 
And also this one:
When I'm in Midtown or some other place where I'm "sharing the road" (that's cute) and thousands of two-ton 350 horsepower motor vehicles are bearing down on me because they're driven by people whose only priority is getting to the Midtown Tunnel or the 59th Street bridge as quickly as possible, you can be damn well sure I'll do whatever the hell I need to do in order to get a head start on these homicidal mutherfuckers, and that includes running the light if I deem it safer to do so.
I agree. As far as cyclists go, I'm a pretty safe and law-abiding road user. But I've run my share of red lights (oftentimes a stop light won't change for a bicycle - more on this another time), and damn straight I'm going to do what I need to do to keep breathing and get home safe to my family.

I also thought it was an interesting coincidence that the above BSNYC post was followed the next day by this post from Andy Cline over at Carbon Trace. I was particularly struck by this observation: street/road user has any right to expect to go any particular place at any particular speed in any particular amount of time. To believe that one does have the right to go any particular place at any particular speed in any particular amount of time is, at a minimum, discourteous. (The adjective I prefer here is “totally freaking outrageous,” but I understand I must be “reasonable.”)
The adjective I would prefer here is "fucking stupid, immature, and sociopathic." But that's just me.

I did a little math while I was riding home from work the other day. Some jackass in a Lexus passed me with oncoming traffic on a narrow, two lane street. When I realized what was happening, I hugged the curb. Even so, he was probably within 8-10 inches of me. He had been behind me for about half a block - call it 10 seconds at most. The posted speed limit was around 30 mph, and I was probably pedaling along at about 10. That means I delayed him by approximately 6 seconds. If he lives here in town, his total one-way commute time is probably around 15 minutes, give or take. That means I added a whopping 0.67% onto that ass clown's commute. If he had waited just a few more seconds to pass when there was no oncoming traffic, that would've been an additional 0.2%-ish.

But nevermind. Those extra 2-3 seconds are way more important than a little human fucking decency.

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