Monday, September 19, 2011

Cyclists do it too...

I don't know what it was, but today seemed like a day where I kept running into traffic problems, not with cars, but with other cyclists. At one point I was heading along the bike lane when a man on a commuter cut lazily across from the opposite bike lane, pedalling away, and drove slantwise across the oncoming lane and into the bike lane, where he wound up heading straight for me, the wrong way up the bike lane. I dodged, and said something like, "Watch it!" as he arced left onto a side street and continued on his way. I guess merging with traffic and slowing down to make the turn at a sharper angle would have cramped his style.

Then a few blocks away, I was waiting in the left turn lane at a pretty big intersection when a man rolled up beside me on his bike, and glanced at me with a vague sort of expression. I was too busy wondering why he'd pulled up on my outside to be particularly social, and when the light did turn green, he did just what I'd been worried he was going to do: he headed out into the left turn beside me, which meant that when we finished the left turn, one of us would have to hit the brakes or we'd collide as we both headed for the outer edge of the road. I shouted, "What are you doing!?" but he didn't seem concerned. I pedaled faster just to get away from him in case he did anything else wonky.

I know, I know. In those bike-flotillas you see so often in videos of Copenhagen that make it look like cyclist heaven, I'd have to put up with more jostling than this. But I also wouldn't be putting up with the added factor of adjacent motor traffic. And I figure if we're all vehicles together, we should all try and act like it.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Appalled by Nepean High School

I had been trying to avoid even looking at this story over the last couple of days, but I finally couldn't ignore the churning feeling in my stomach. I mean the story about Nepean High School student (now ex-student) Mykal Baytaluk chasing down a freshman in his car as a hazing ritual. His friends threw eggs out the window of the car at the other kid, then Baytaluk chased him along the road, and finally ran over the bike and drove away.

What repels me about this isn't that it happened. People do stupid things. People do stupid things with cars. In high school and out of it. (I myself have done stupid things with cars while in high school.) But the outcry supporting his moronic behaviour from his fellow students is just appalling. And the fact that he said he would "probably do it again" and thinks it's 'unfair' that he was expelled is also pretty repellent.

I don't have much of an opinion about hazing, except that it didn't happen at my high school, and if it had I would have been as far from it as I could possibly manage to be (I avoided all the 'frosh week activities' in first year university, too.) Come to think of it, maybe I do have an opinion about hazing, which is that it reinforces the superiority of the ones with social, psychological, and emotional power, and anyone who doesn't like it is forced to participate. Maybe it's bullying, maybe it's not. Apparently these kids - the ones protesting - think it's all in good fun. But the fact remains that a 17-year-old kid got behind the wheel of a car and pointed it at another human being, and his fellow students are okay with that.

That leads to people that think it's okay to bully and harass cyclists and other drivers. People that think that because you feel like you're in control of a car, you are (things can go wrong - gas pedals can stick, you can misjudge, hell, you can sneeze.) Throwing eggs at a Grade 9, whatever I may think of the practice, is nowhere in the same league as running them down with a car, and it scares me that these kids don't seem to know the difference.