Sunday, June 17, 2012

Food for thought...

A simple pre-school run became anything but simple.
All I wanted to do was take Schroeder to preschool on the bike. I wanted my inaugural post-surgical bike trek to be easy as I am still not sure of my limitations. I won’t be completely healed for another four weeks but the doctor said to “gradually ease back into activity” whatever that means.
The first sign of possible complication in my simple plan was that Linus wanted to ride his own bike. Having him trailing behind me always ups my anxiety because he is such a new rider. But I because I want him to be comfortable on a bike I said yes. Off we went. The next complication occurred a few blocks from the house when we picked up a stray dog. Rather a stray dog picked us up. He was a friendly sort – no growling or barking or chasing. He just ran beside (and occasionally between) the bikes as we rode along - still very distracting especially with the between the bikes bit. I should have stopped then I guess but I kept riding hoping that the dog would get bored or distracted and drop off. He didn’t. As we pulled up to the only major intersection on this ride I was completely flustered and distracted. The dog was still with us and thus far the animal had shown little regard for his personal safety, running in and out of the street willy-nilly. I did NOT want him to get creamed by a car in front of my kids as he followed us across the street. So I sent Charlie (the oldest) over to the corner with instructions to walk across the street with the light in the hopes that the dog would follow him. Linus and I stayed in the lane and prepared to cross like cars. Well, I looked up and the light was green so I started to go. Unfortunately the light was not green but a very definite shade of red as I got about ¼ of the way across the intersection – so yes, I unintentionally ran a red. Fortunately traffic was light and Linus had more sense than I and headed back to the corner with his brother where they and the dog crossed safely on the next light cycle. So nobody got squished although I did get honked at. We arrived at preschool in one piece and the dog was saved. It also appears that even that "easy" journey was too much for right now. :(
Back to my running the red....
Although I entered on the green and didn't legally (as I understand it) run a light, I do not like to be caught mid-intersection on a red. I really try to ride safely. I don’t aim to put my kids or myself at risk but occasionally I mess up – I am, after all, human. Please, no snide remarks from the peanut gallery. :) It doesn’t happen all the time but it happens often enough so I thought I’d put the question out to some of my fellow cargo bikers. I did get some good advice (watch the opposite lights and/or the crosswalk count- down) which I will definitely incorporate into my riding when I can. However, where I ride in suburbia, the lights are all on sensors which do not account for slower moving vehicles i.e.: bikes and there is not often a crosswalk signal unless someone (usually me) pushes the button. So, the real problem is that my bike is not a car. Everyone expects me to behave like I am driving a car when I am in fact not driving a car. I am not heavy like a car and I cannot accelerate like car. I repeat: I AM NOT A CAR. In fact, the only people who do not expect me to act like a car are the pedestrians who pop out in front of me. To them I appear to be a telepathic magician who can stop instantaneously without injuring anyone or losing control of my bike.
I think that most of my fellow bikers/cyclists understand my conundrum. In fact I think people who bike regularly are the only ones who understand, so here’s what I propose…
I (and I am only half joking) would like to write a proposition** that in order for a person in California to get or renew a driver’s license that they be required to take a bike safety course which would include at least one two hour trek via bike on a major thoroughfare. I think it’s a pretty damn good idea for everyone – biker or not. People who choose to bike would learn how to do so more safely. Those folks who choose only to drive would have a new awareness of the complexity of biking in an environment designed almost exclusively for cars. At least then we'd all (hypothetically) be on the same page.
Would you give me your signature?
That's it for now. I'll leave you with a picture of Yuba on his extended vacation.
**for those readers not in California… A proposition is an idea for a law that with a lot of money and signatures can be added to a ballot and passed my majority vote into California law. I think it is the most ridiculous system ever and is probably why California is such a mess right now. We hire lawmakers to make laws because the general public can’t, but when in Rome…. :)


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. I like your idea and if I was still in Sac I'd help you work on it. As for not being able to get through an intersection as fast as a car, I'm not sure what you can do that you haven't already thought of. I pick pressing the walk button like a pedestrian when I think that is safest, and I take the lane and smile big, waving and saying thank you to the cars waiting for us when that seems safest. (I learned that from a Critical Mass document that I read online in a section about corking. Always smile, wave and say thank you when you are demanding that cars let you finish your turn.)