a break in the clouds

What am I talking about? We don’t have clouds in Los Angeles!

I’ve had my head down in school, but I had to quote something from the article that just went up in the NYT and is probably going to rip through the interwebs like cyclists in traffic. Robert Sullivan, writing about how biking has changed in New York City during the past two decades, writes:

Despite the presence of bike lanes, we see many bikes on the sidewalk, and the bikers riding the wrong way down streets, alarming cabdrivers at the light. For biking to make it to the next level, for bikes to be completely accepted as the viable form of city transportation that they are, bikers must switch sides. They must act like people and stop acting like cars.

This means doing things that we, the bikers of New York, would have laughed at just a few years ago. It means getting a little personal, though not that personal. Acting like people means that we have to do things that we frankly don’t want to do and things that we want cars to do, like slow down.

As far as bikers go, I’ve become a kind of laughingstock because I wait at traffic lights. Recently, as I waited in a bike lane at Atlantic Avenue for a light to change, a woman in her 70s, walking hunched with a cane, approached the crosswalk smiling — until she spotted me. Then she began shouting as I waited behind the crosswalk, “Well, are you going to stop?” I assured her I was waiting. She grimaced. “How do I know you’re not going to go?” she asked.

Hits kind of close to home, no? Sorry I didn’t make it out yesterday for the Bike Summit – nor out for much at all these past couple of weeks – but thanks to everybody who’s been writing and working recently.

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3 responses to “a break in the clouds

  1. Pingback: Selling bike safety, culture and infrastructure to a suspicious public « BikingInLA

  2. Will Campbell

    I haven’t been laughed at openly (at least not so far as I know), but like Sullivan I have tremendous respect for red lights. My default is to stop at them, rolling only those very looooong ones on my route and then only after coming to a complete stop and making sure there is no cross traffic.

    In fact, I ran one this morning — the glacially paced one across Wilton at 4th. I waited it out and got the blessed pedestrian countdown only to have it reset to walk when the vehicle that was behind me made a right turn onto Wilton. I let loose with a WTF!, looked both ways and rolled.

  3. labikerides

    Glacial is a perfect word for that light. That’s the only one I roll consistently on red, precisely for what you pointed out: Given how slow that light can be to move, you’re liable to sit there for ten minutes waiting for the light to change. And if you’re riding at off-peak hours, traffic isn’t even that bad on Wilton, making rolling that red a relatively safe bet.

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