Bicycles

Watching the news this morning, I saw a headline go across their ticker about Berkeley, CA bicyclists being upset about fines.  I waited around and watched their little blurb about it.  Apparently bicyclists at UC Berkeley are being cited for riding their bikes in a dismount zone.  The citation requires paying a fine of $220 because the vehicle code doesn’t differentiate between bicycles and cars.

According to the news, their main argument against the citation is that they “didn’t know” about the dismount zone because of a lack of signage.  Then they showed an interview with another bicyclist who stated that she knew about the dismount zone by reading the pamphlets and maps that are handed out every year, and by finding the rules for campus bicycle riding online.  It seems to me that the signs should be posted and obvious.  It also seems to me that these (presumably) literate university students should have proactively searched for and read as much information as they could.  The blame lies with both.

I may get flamed for the following, but so be it: as a motorist and a pedestrian I am really annoyed by bicyclists in general.

There.  I said it.

I cringe when I’m driving and come up on a bicyclist.  Previous experience has shown that most bicyclists don’t follow the rules of the road.  They don’t stop at stop signs or lights.  They don’t stay in their bike lane (if there is one) and choose to weave in and out of traffic.  They ride 2-3 abreast and kick cars that are legally parked on the side of the road.  They ride against traffic.  And if they do something stupid and end up running into my car, I’m responsible.

I really dislike walking near bicyclists too.  Those that aren’t weaving in and out of traffic are riding on the sidewalk and weaving in and out of pedestrian traffic.  I’ve seen them knock over the very old and the very young without stopping (and in some cases yelling angrily).  And when they ride as a family, I don’t see many of them teaching their children common road courtesies.

Then you have the bicyclists that are completely unprepared.  No helmet.  No head or tail lights.  No bike lock.  I can’t tell you how many times someone tries to park their bike in our lobby or walk it through the library because they don’t have a lock.  The library is not your parking garage.  There’s a drug store on the opposite side of the parking lot.  Please buy a lock there.

Those that do have a lock often won’t make the best parking decisions either.  There are two perfectly good covered bike racks with plenty of space available for your use.  Why do you insist on locking your bike to the (very expensive) public art pieces and (heavily used) exterior benches?  And you all wonder why we can’t have nice things.

On top of it all, many of the bicyclists I’ve spoken with have the nerve to act as if they’re God’s gift to the environment and should be exempt from the law because they bike instead of drive.  Sorry guys, but you’re not.  I might think better of you if you do one major thing: follow the law.  To do this you must ride with traffic, don’t weave, stay off the sidewalk, have a headlight and tail light if you’re riding at night, and stop at all red lights and stop signs.  Although it’s not necessarily required by law, it might also be a good idea to wear a helmet.  I don’t want to support you with my tax dollars because you were in an accident and chose not to invest a few dollars in protecting yourself from brain damage.

I hope you all don’t hate me, but this is something that’s been on my mind for awhile.  I’m just reminded of it every time I hear a bicyclist complaining about inequality on the roads.

One way to resolve this is for there to be legislation requiring some kind of bicycle registration and licensing for adults/teens (age 15+).  Both would have an expiration date of 5 years out and the fees collected would go towards building and maintaining bike paths throughout the state.  The license would be issued after passing a written exam.  Every 10 years, the bicyclist would need to pass the exam again.

It just makes more sense to me than hoping that the people riding their bikes on the roads alongside you know the rules, and it would help ensure that bicyclists have a more protected place to ride their bikes.  I’m not really anti-bicycle, I just believe that we need to reevaluate how things are done and improve them.  I also think that the rules that are in place must be followed and enforced.  For me, it’s that simple.

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1 Comment

  1. Thanks for the heads-up about UC Berkeley! I ride my bike there once a week for an archives internship. I had no idea there were restrictions on biking on campus, as I see people doing it all the time.

    As someone who commutes by bike about 70-80% of the time and drives the rest of the time, I am with you about bike registration. There are some irresponsible cyclists out there. They can cause serious harm to themselves and others, and I get pissed when I see these kind of cyclists giving all cyclists a bad name.

    However, I also see where the indignation comes from on behalf of cyclists. I stop at lights and stop signs, but I have still been cut off by cars countless times(and bullied/messed around with by people in cars, but that’s another story). Not to mention that when you bike, you’re out there in the street breathing in car and bus exhaust and it really drives home the point of how very gross pollution is.


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