Monday, July 28, 2008

can you see me?

Did someone forget to tell me it's National Invisible Bikers Day? Or National Bad Drivers Day? Or National Fear for Your Life if You Ride a Bike Day?

It's not uncommon for drivers to be absolutely clueless when it comes to sharing the road with cyclists. And I'm not going to deny that there are some pretty clueless bikers out there, too, but today my rant is about the drivers. I normally have to deal with only one or two ridiculous drivers on my ride home. But today was different.

It all started on Stanford campus. Apparently I'm either invisible or I look like I'm standing still on my bike. Like always, a number of people just walked right out in front of me without looking both ways. Some even looked both ways, saw me, and stepped out in front of me anyway. Hello?! Do they not think that 25 pounds of metal topped with a 135-pound living organism moving almost 15 miles per hour isn't going to hurt when it slams into them? Come on, people.

Then there are the Stanford students/staff/faculty who ride bikes but run all stop signs and have no concept of right of way. When you are on a sidewalk or on a small road, you should really slow down before you ride out onto the main road. Nope. Not at Stanford. There's no looking, no slowing down. I can't even count the number of times I've been riding straight down Serra Mall and had to hit the breaks for someone who came flying out of nowhere. How are these people still alive?

Is it true that the more book smarts you have, the less street smarts you have?

But that's a pretty normal day for me. It was the rest of the ride home that really surprised me. I had so many cars pull out in front of me or speed up to get in front of me only to cut me off. I guess when people see a bike, they automatically assume it is going really slow and that they have plenty of time to pull out in front of it. Or walk out in front of it. Or make a 3-point turn in front of it. No, people. We are actually moving quite fast and you are now in our way.

First prize goes to the lady who decided to gun it and make a left turn as the light turned yellow--only I was already halfway into the intersection. I actually had to stop so she wouldn't hit me and then back up my bike to get out of the intersection. The worst part is that she never even saw me--and she came within 10 feet of me.

So I'm declaring today the first annual National Bad Driver Invisible Biker Fear For Your Life If You're On a Bike Day. Chances are tomorrow might be the same.

Do me a favor if you're a pedestrian. Recognize that bikes move fast and you probably shouldn't step out in front of them!
And do me a favor if you drive a car. Open your eyes!!


Julia said...

i think in the nine months i worked at stanford, i saw at least 3 or 4 car/bicycle accidents with a cyclist on the road with an ambulance on the way.


LJ and DC said...

Dear Molly,
Please do not let cars hit you. People are stupid as was clearly demonstrated yesterday. And that is why (as you said) that bikers have to ride as though you are actually invisible. People should see, but they don't, (or maybe they don't care?). I would have thought this was getting better since there's SO many bikes on the roads these days.

Camelia Bradshaw said...

You be carefull out there Molly. I agree that some drivers don't see bikers. Maybe there should be a law that the bikers should wear bright orange vests like construction workers with big signs on their backs that says, "A Real Biker" or "Don't hit me".
I bet there still will be drivers that won't even see them!

Tyler said...

I think that's the first time I've heard a biker complain about pedestrians. When you step on a bike you lose your pedestrian status, and we all know that pedestrian trumps both car and bike at a crosswalk or intersection.

If it's a jaywalker though, run 'em over. I dare you.

Molly said...

Agreed, Tyler. Down with bikers flying down the sidewalk! Bikes should use the streets. I could write an entire post about horrible bikers at Stanford. They act like they have the right of way no matter what. I'm definitely a rule-follower. On my bike I will only roll through a stop sign if no one is around. And I take my turn at intersections just like cars. And I'll always let pedestrians have the right of way.

But these crazy people step out in front of me all over the road. Only bikes and shuttle buses are allowed on this particular Stanford road, but people cross it wherever they want and without looking as if they were walking across a lawn. Drives me crazy!