Girlfriend in Tacoma

Sep. 14, 2008 at 3:54pm

on kids, bikes, and cars... who's right?

(golly, I feel grumpy.)

So I took the kid to her school playground today. Goal: I'll jog, she'll ride her bike.  And all's well with that until two boys come along, large-ish corn-fed boys who want to race their bikes around the track.

When not hormonally empowered, I play well with others, or at least keep my grievances to myself.  Not so, today.  As boys race behind me, they holler, "get out of the way, we're coming through!" --I'm in my little track lane, keeping to it, and as they pass me super close, I scream, "don't you know pedestrians have the right of way??" and the one kid's all, "is she talking to *us*?" --incredulous-like.

As they come back around, and as I'm getting my kid (who was respectful and polite to even the smallest of pedestrians as she pedaled) I snap at the kid, "yeah I was talking to you.  If you're in a car, pedestrians have right of way.  On a mountain, the downhill skier has right of way.  If you can't control your bike, don't freaking ride it on a track, where, yeah, PEDESTRIANS HAVE RIGHT OF WAY!"

Thinking about that on my way home, I fumed.  Why should I be teaching little shitwits rules of the road as they're about to cream me?  Where are their parents to teach them? (same little idiots also did a couple of rude maneuvers around my kid, as she rode, so my rage had built from a few different experiences.)  --Even still, am I right?  SHould I have run into the grass to allow them free-range?  (oh, wait, they didn't give me directions, ie "on your left" so how the hell was I to know which way to scatter?)

Meanwhile, as a biker, I will often ride 5 mile drive and be irritated as I ride up behind pedestrians, three abreast, with a dog or two on retract-o-leash.  "Coming behind on your left" is generally met with angry, confused looks as they skooch ever so slightly to their left, right into my path.


Or as a biker, how many times have I been nearly pushed off the road by an angry motorist, protected by his big fat SUV?   Then again, as a motorist, how many times have I been irritated by bikes *in the middle of the road* going their own sweet, leisurely pace?  (not, mind you, in intersections, but, like, up hills... one guy, last week, traversed his uphill on his mountain bike, on the residential road in front of my house, as I attempted to pick up my kid from school...)  --And then, there're people who commute by skateboard, coasting down hills in a similar, sideways back and forth manner, and I'll wait impatiently until they realize, CAR! --and move out of the way (generally glaring at me) ....???  WHat's up with that?  Were these people borne of the same entitlement theory that has the kids in my neighborhood playing street-luge, skate-park, and basketball *in the middle of the street* glaring as I drive by?

So here's the last of my rant, my granny-saying moment:  When I was a kid, we did the whole "car back!" thing, and moved the fuck out of the way, quickly.  As a biker, I try to hug the shoulder much as I can (sewage grates notwithstanding) and as a biker or runner, I try to use a polite system of calling left, and passing left so that I, the faster vehicle, am in the way of traffic, should any appear.  Am I wrong to assume similar road etiquette from others?  Whatever happened to good old fashioned road manners, like a smile and a wave even as you pass the bikers and other alternative-mode-of-transpo users???

*rant over.  we now leave you to your regular programming.*

comments [12]  |  posted under road rants, rules, Tacoma


by morgan on 9/14/2008 @ 4:53pm
Here's the answer to one of your issues. Pick one up at the Old Town bike shop or your own favorite LOCAL store. Use it well in advance, people aren't used to bicycles around here.

by intacoma on 9/14/2008 @ 7:31pm
I'm thinking about getting one of these

its basically an airhorn for your bike

by morgan on 9/14/2008 @ 8:37pm
Yes, that would be effective as well. Not too "green" though as the air canister looks to be disposable. I prefer something that could run off the energy of the bike or the rider such as this.

by Mofo from the Hood on 9/14/2008 @ 9:30pm
Guys on the track: Just bein' guys. You know---made you jump---that sort of thing.

As a general rule, when I ride up on pedestrians on a narrow path I call out, "Behind You!" or "Excuse Me!"

I ride all over town, on side streets mostly. And through the years I've always liked riding around Hilltop. Just this past week two oncoming drivers waited for me to pass until they turned. I gave 'em a wave and they waved back. On another occasion I was riding up South 23rd near L ST and a woman at a bus stop across the street from me calls out "It's a beautiful day!" I didn't even see her until then, so I say back something like, "Straight up cream puff." Or maybe it was "Yes it is!"

Don't second guess moving cars. Keep watchin' out for the other guy. Any kind of a crash between a bike and a car, the odds are that the big car will win the day.

Teens on skateboards: Stone Crazy or too dumb to move whether a car or a bike is approaching them. Don't be a cop. Just press on granny.

by jcbetty on 9/15/2008 @ 1:58am
man, I need me a hand-cranked siren AND a bell. Airhorn? Not so much. As to the boys being boys thing: I'm gonna have to get all granny on the subject again: "It just ain't polite, I tell ya!" --Behind you, excuse me, all those are good. "get out of the way" ? --not so much. Boys need to be taught-- and not by strangers-- the better ways to accomplish crap. You can make a person jump in a good way, just as much as you can make 'em jumping mad, I think.

I guess, mostly I'm just frustrated at rude people. I just wish there was some kind of etiquette WASL or something. But don't make me go all public school rant, or I'll become grandma again.

by izenmania on 9/15/2008 @ 7:26am
Judging from the way it's been going, I'm not sure that an etiquette WASL would result in kinds learning any more about etiquette...

by intacoma on 9/15/2008 @ 8:03am
morgan you actually use your bike pump to fill that canister with air so it is a pretty green solution

by dawntown on 9/15/2008 @ 1:32pm
Boy, have I ever been fumed by the whole bicyclist/automobile saga!

I just try to be respectful of others in any situation, but, lo don't get in my face if I don't split the seas for you. Shees! I am suprised I haven't turned up dead in ditch somewhere with my brazen attitoob.

I have gotten into peoples faces, used the one finger salute, rode my bike reeeeally slow in the middle of the lane, etc. just to prove the point that bicyclist have as much a right to be on the road as your BF SUV. And believe me, I follow bicycle rules pretty strigently, and I don't hog lanes, run lights, ride on sidewalks, etc. so there is nonthing respectful about cutting me off, yelling at me, or driving by me as close as possible, cause Ill eventually catch up to you at the next light and kick a nice dent into your door.

Besides, fuckwits who do these things are too ignorent to realize that it's bicycle commuters like me that drive down the cost of gasoline. Whether it makes a difference or not, it's at the grassroots level where it starts.

by dawntown on 9/15/2008 @ 1:42pm
Acording to Dr. Lector, rudeness is an epidemic, a disease of society...

by jenyum on 9/15/2008 @ 2:52pm
Acording to Dr. Lector, rudeness is an epidemic, a disease of society

Seriously. 'bout to break out the fava beans.

A few geniuses on motorcycles tailgated me all the way to Wallgreens the other night. (Hello? I am going slowly because I AM BLINDED BY YOUR FRICKING HEADLIGHT so BACK OFF) then almost plowed into me when I pulled in, resulting in a "WTF is wrong with you?" from the bikers. (I'm blind now. What's wrong with you?)

I always give the motorcyclists their extra car length, just like the driving manual says, but recently it seems like the West end of 6th Avenue is the land of rude ass bikers with death wishes. I've had a couple of run ins recently with idiots who think it's hilarious to intentionally crowd the lady in the broken down Volvo, always on that strip. Is it the Obama sticker? I don't know.

by morgan on 9/15/2008 @ 2:59pm
intacoma: THAT is awesome! Ok, bell, airhorn, and siren. That should do it, right?

by jcbetty on 9/15/2008 @ 5:40pm
actually, @izen-- I think it might make people more rude ;) --@Dawn-- hm. don't mince words, tell me how you *really* feel about that!? ;) @dawn2 &jen-- heee! (feeling much more mellow and emoticon-empowered right now, can you tell?)


musing her way through arts, culture, dining, shopping, exercising, and parenting, all while wearing a pungent, truffle-like aroma.

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