Monday, February 03, 2014

7 Things: Times 3 - The Share the Road (And Sidewalk) Edition

Due to a combination of having more friends switch to bike commuting and getting more bike commuting friends, I'm getting a peek into some of those challenges.  Certainly, the rise of bike commuting in the area is not new to me, I just have to try to walk down the sidewalk without getting run over.  So, here we go. If we could all works towards multi-user harmony, it might look like this. 

Cars.
1. In order to achieve peace in the land there are pre-established rules for car transit.  These involve preferred speed, stopping points, and appropriate turning places and times.  Sure, some people (ahem) bend that speed rule.  But like all rules, they are best broken* when you are aware what it was the other travelers might reasonably expect of you. 
2. Bikes are not in the wrong place. Bikes have options, including roads.  Yes, bikes are slower than cars.  It happens. 
3. People who are crossing in crosswalks with the light are not in the wrong place.  Even if you really need to turn.  People in crosswalks that have no light always have the right of way. 
4. Honking should be reserved to indicate concern that another vehicle is causing immediate danger to you.  And possibly a gentle honk to let the car directly in front of you notice that the light has changed.  Honking has never made anyone faster.  It has never made any vehicle disappear. 
5. Bike lanes are not parking spaces. 
6. U-turns should be reserved for unusual circumstances.  They should not be done mid traffic.  Or across bike lanes.  Or crosswalks.
7. Turn signals are not extra work, they are a helpful indicator of your plans for your fellow travelers.

Bikes.
1. When you're on the road, you are considered a slow car.  This means all those traffic laws you've learned apply to you.  Red lights are not a special opportunity to get a jump on the cars because red lights don't just mean traffic one way stops, it means traffic another way starts. 
2. When you're on the sidewalk, you are considered a fast pedestrian. Pedestrians do not have to get out of your way.
3. Wear your helmet.
4. Talking on your cell phone while driving is dangerous.  This is especially true of a vehicle that typically requires two hands to balance properly. 
5. On the subject of balance, bikes are generally designed to carry a single person.  If you load more people or things than that, without baskets, panniers and bungees, say, for example, loading a gallon of milk on each side of the handle and you cannot maneuver your bike in a straight line, you need to reconsider your plan and not endanger your fellow travelers. 
6. If you are riding you bike on the street, sometimes you have to stop.
7.  If you are riding your bike on the sidewalk, sometimes you have to stop. 

Pedestrians
1. I've talked about jaywalking* before. Again, we're all trying to share here, so you too need to make sure the things you do don't endanger others. 
2. Walking in a straight line (where obstacle allow) helps.
3.  If someone is going slower than you want, you can try to pass them, but treat it like you were a car.  If there's not enough space to do it without impeding oncoming pedestrians, then wait. 
4. When people coming opposite directions encounter an obstacle that means only one can pass at a time, politeness is called for.  That doesn't mean you can't go first, but it's nice to acknowledge that the other person had to slow to let you.
5. Don't stand in the bike lane while you try to figure out when to jaywalk. 
6.  If x is the number of people in your party, and y is the greatest number of people who can walk abreast in that stretch of sidewalk, only walk abreast if y is greater than x.  Otherwise, if you want to chat, go to a park.  Yes, sidewalks are part of the community, but their primary purpose is for people to get somewhere.  Don't block that.  Don't assume no one is faster than you. 
7. Also, stay alert.  And don't be that person who causes a pedestrian pileup because you came to a dead stop reading that text. 


*Standard disclaimer: I am not encouraging breaking laws.  I am saying people do it, and at the very least, I wish they would attempt to do so wisely and in ways designed to cause the least amount of harm. 


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