Saturday, October 4, 2008

Defensive Biking

As I sit here dabbing anti-bacterial ointment onto my most recent wound, I feel the need to speak about my close calls this week with, well, whatever.

The traffic cameras at the intersections (that take your picture if you run a red) are causing problems for me. Not because I think I will get caught, although that would definitely birth a nice new blog post, but because it causes cars, especially cabbies, to jam on the breaks when a yellow appears. Now that's not good for me when I'm right behind the cab going a good 20mph. Some would call that tailgating, but as any biker will tell you, momentum is very precious, since it is produced by the hard work of the rider. Changing speeds constantly is not helpful when trying to maximize efficient traveling, it's all about finding a good constant speed in a nice high gear and just cruising. Except when all of a sudden the car in front of you stops.

One thing I'm trying to be more consience of is not slamming on my front break, because it causes the back wheel to slide out and foward. However, I'm not sure I could depend on stopping as fast if I only used the back break, and when a reaction causes you to break, you usually squeeze both. Thus, the exact series of events I expereinced last night, as I barely missed slamming into the back of the cab. The back wheel came around during the skid and the bike fell back away from the cab, all contact with the asphalt being absorbed by my knee, my elbow, and the pedal (which broke off). Fortunately for me, clothing damage was minimal and apparently I can ride a bike with one pedal and one...peg.

For some reason, I've been having a lot of close calls like this, non others this close, but I am wearing a lot of rubber off my tires. Two nights ago, I was flying up 3rd Avenue and racing to get through the yellow light at the big intesection at 34th street, this delivery guy comes down 3rd Avenue THE WRONG WAY and then proceeds to turn in front of me at the cross walk, right as I am passing through the intersection. I yelled at the guy, he kept his vector, I slammed on my breaks, so did he, and I ended up missing him by inches. If it wasn't for the fact that I was desperately trying to get home and watch the VP debate (the Phillies game had just ended, and beautifully at that, take that C.C.), and also due to the fact we were in the middle of an intersection, I probably would have blew up in his face. He wouldn't have understood me though anyway, my Spanish is too broken. Not more than 4 streets later some other delivery dude comes flying out of nowhere and I almost hit him. What is wrong with these people? I'm very tempted to support needing a Biker's License to use the streets. And to have a license you should need a green card.

Here are some unspoken guidelines that people with common sense follow. If you don't have common sense, then you are, by definition, and idiot. If you are an idiot, please, lock youself inside your house or apartment and never leave. By all means, don't get on a bike or in a car, and please, please stay away from me:

1) Whatever moron decided to spread the rumor that it's safer to ride against traffic than with traffic is, well, and idiot. I'm sorry, just because you can see traffic better when going against the flow doesn't make the impact of a head on collision any less. That may work on country roads, but not in the city. Riding with traffic yields a smaller impact if you are hit, and allows one to get more consecutive green lights. Also, if I'm riding in a bike lane with traffic, and you come the opposite way, that doesn't work now, does it?

2) If you open a car door on the side of traffic (which you should ONLY do if in the drivers seat and you have no other option), open it a crack first, and make sure there isn't a car or cyclist flying past you. This infuriates me, and I bet any city biker will tell you that they have had several close calls with IDIOTS swinging open cab doors to get out on the side of traffic. Wow, just wow.

I may add to this list if future idiots try to ruin my day in other ways.

1 comment:

  1. xenophobe - A person unduly fearful or contemptuous of that which is foreign