Thursday, January 5, 2012

Bikeverse forgive me, for I have sinned.

It's been at least a season since my last confession. Today, I rode on the sidewalk all the way home from work. To be fair, it was dark, and my taillight had burnt out, and I figured I was probably better off riding illegally on the sidewalk than invisibly on the icy street. I did stop whenever it looked like I was even close to making a pedestrian step aside, and I called out "Passing on the left!" whenever I needed to. I waited at the crosswalks, and yielded to cars. But the sin still stands: I rode on the sidewalk.

I let my taillight burn out. I know, I shouldn't have. I have batteries in the kitchen drawer, I swear I do.

I have also, at times, ridden through stop signs, only slowing up a little and looking to left and right along the intersection. I know it's wrong. But acceleration takes a long time, and I worry that while I'm stopped a car will arrive and then no one will know what to do exactly and there will be that moment of "you go; no, you go; no, it's your right of way;" which is confusing for both sides... so if there are no cars coming, well, I ride through the stop sign.

Sometimes, just sometimes, I've even run red lights - but only at T intersections when there are no cars coming and I'm not turning. Or at lights that signal only pedestrian crossings, when there are no pedestrians. I always feel bad immediately, though, if that helps.

Bikeverse, forgive me; once or twice I hopped onto the sidewalk to pass stopped traffic on Main Street at rush hour, when there were cars sitting idling with their sidewalls six inches from the curb. I didn't wait, like a virtuous member of traffic, in the clouds of exhaust, behind them. I tried hard not to do it for long, and I always dropped back onto the street when there was room, but I did pass on the sidewalk. I also tried not to draw attention to the fact that I was moving and they weren't, because I know, Bikeverse, that smugness is also a sin, and makes drivers hate us and call us "self-righteous elites."

I also jumped on and off the sidewalk one summer day when I was putting up posters downtown. It was wrong of me. I know that. But it was a beautiful day and I was feeling free. 

I have used the pedestrian crosswalk to make a left. The cars were just too many, and too fast, and merging left across two or three lanes gave me the willies. I've even, I have to confess, thought to myself that the rule ought to be that bikes do that all the time to make lefts: as they do where there are "bike boxes."

I usually cut through the parking lot at Cambridge and Somerset, beneath the Chinatown Gate, to go to a friend's house. It probably isn't even any shorter. And I don't always signal right turns. Sometimes you want both hands on the handlebars, and right turns are really less of a shock to motorists than left turns, right? I do always signal lefts. (When I don't use the crosswalk, that is.)

And sometimes I don't take my lane: sometimes I let the cars crowd me nearly into the curb. I am heartily sorry, but some days are bolder than others. I hope you can understand this, Bikeverse. I don't mean to do these things (mostly.) I just wanted to get it off my chest, because all these things ran through my head, today, as I rode home on the sidewalk, wanting to stop and explain to everyone who saw me that it was really, honestly, because my taillight was out, and I'm not normally like this.

So I just thought you ought to know. I've got a bike chain I could use as a rosary if you want to assign me penance. But you know we do all do this stuff, right? I just wanted to come clean. I feel better now.

No comments:

Post a Comment