Whenever I think I will have nothing exceptional to enter, something happens as it did yesterday that changes my mind. But first I should clarify a couple of things. FIRST, while I record having said things to particularly reckless sidewalk bicyclists, I generally do not say anything nor do I shout except to another pedestrian to watch out for an oncoming bike. But, sometimes when I’ve had near misses with several rogue bicyclists in just the few minutes it takes for me to walk to work, I do say something, never profane, but reproving.
Interestingly, the two worst reactions I’ve had from these rogues is (1) when I said nothing other than shaking my head and saying quietly “no good.” and (2) a time just last week when I was trying to warn a speeding bicyclist in the street of a danger not just to me but to him and did shout “red light, stop!”
In the first instance I was turning from Corcoran into 16th at midday with briefcase in one hand and small grocery bag in the other. The moment I turned I saw a speeding bicyclist coming way too fast and not paying attention reading a small paper at the same time. I pinned myself against the fence of the apartment building on the corner to prevent his running right in to me. As he passed I just shook my head and said “no good” and went on my way. He must have looked up just at that moment because it was a corner because by the time I got to my apartment building next door, he had stopped the bike, turned around and confronted me, yelling and arguing that what was I upset about, he hadn’t hit me; then he yelled about his “rights”. At that point, knowing I was at my own door, I gave him a lecture on the priority of pedestrians on what are after all SIDE WALKS. Seeing he hadn’t scared me into submission, which appeared to be his intent, he said “oh, shut up.” I responded “you have way too much time on your hands, why don’t you try walking your bike to the corner?” He retreated in disgust. But, sadly, he rode off.
The second instance happened just last week, also in the slower midday time, but at 18th and R. I only mention it because this is another danger that pedestrians face here when a bike culture grows without enforcement of existing laws and a friend of mine suggested I mention such instances too. We all should know that it is against the law for any vehicle to run a red light. But knowing that cars and bikers sometimes take a chance as the light changes, I always wait an extra couple of seconds after I get the ped light and look both ways just to make sure. And 18th at that point is not a major thoroughfare. So after waiting 3 seconds and seeing that all traffic I could see was stopped, I entered into the ped lane and was almost halfway across when, thanks to my good peripheral vision, I saw a bicyclist coming way too fast to be able to stop for me or the light. Still not sure whether he came from behind a car or not. I was about to move back when I saw another bike just a little to the right of him, doing the same thing. So I moved as quickly as I could and yelled my “red light, stop” warning. He clearly took it the wrong way, or maybe just hated people to point out the issue, because he sliced through the ped crossing and past the light yelling “Shut the f___ up! at that point I did yel after thim “You just ran a red light, jackass!” because by then he had. Then he did something even more reckless, for him not for me, he turned his head back to my direction and yelled some other obscenity WHILE STILL RIDING FAST in traffic.
SECOND, while I know there are good responsible male bicyclists, and I am friends with many, I gave my shout out to women not to embarrass men but to recognize that there is sadly a gender difference in bicyclists who ride on sidewalks. And, while I realize that until this city comes to its senses it is technically legal to ride on sidewalks, I get a little tired of hearing that some bicyclists are afraid to ride in the streets. Yet the people you would think by gender stereotype would be afraid to ride in the streets are the women. And yet I see women riders riding in traffic even in rush hour in the streets even where there are no bike lanes. So I just had to recognize such good behavior and to suggest that some of the men who make these excuses take a lesson from the women for once. Sorry, guys, I really love you but you need to give a talking to to the rogues who are spoiling it for all of us.
More in Part II