November 23rd, 2010 | by Alex | Published in Uncategorized
Listen, I grew up riding my bike in NYC and back then (we’re talking the 70s and 80s, you whippersnappers) we didn’t have friggin’ bike lanes. We rolled the dice and took our damn chances. Beyond a broken thumb and a few dented car doors along the way, I never had a serious problem. It was more a matter of remembering my place in the greater food chain: The New York City street – like it or not – is ultimately the domain of the unpredictable and easily-riled automobile. Bicyclists are guests there, and should behave accordingly.
Fast forward a couple of decades and now we have bike lanes girdling Manhattan every which way you look. While I applaud the idea behind them, bike lanes have given rise to a new breed of urban traveler: The obstreperously entitled bicyclist. Now that they have their lanes, these snippy d-bags seem to believe that all traffic must dutifully clear their path with all haste — whether or not they themselves are moving with the traffic or against it.
I don’t actually own a car (I live in Manhattan … why would I?), but every now and again, we’ll rent one and leave the city. As fate has had it, there is now a bike lane that cuts down my very street, hugging the left hand side of the road (the right being reserved for busses, fire engines and the like). The problem here is that when I’m pulling around in my car to load or unload my kids, I have no other choice than to pull up close to the curb, thereby impeding the bike lane. There are no other options. Without fail when doing so, I am routinely accosted by one uptight pedal-pusher or another, intent on scolding me for blocking the bike lane. Being that my go-to instincts lean towards sarcasm and needless antagonism (as opposed to calmly making my case and pointing out the obvious limitations of the road), the confrontations usually get ugly quickly.
Okay, so you have your bike lanes now. Bully for you. Use them wisely. But having bike lanes doesn’t relieve you from using your basic street smarts and exercising some caution and consideration. The bike lanes are a privilege, not a Divine Right.