Sunday, October 16, 2005

Caution: Bikes Sharing Everything

10 points for the annoying 20-something on the Huffy!
I have become increasingly more frustrated when it comes to understanding our friends and their two-wheeled modes of transportation on the roadways.
Bicycling is fun and I am glad to see more and more people hitting the streets in either an attempt to get fit or just to show off their amazing calves or super high 70's porn star shorts, this is Thornton Park after all, but I am constantly miffed at the "Supreme Being" attitude that I seem to get while sharing the street with these people. Under the Florida Bicycle Law "every person propelling a vehicle by human power has all of the rights and all of the duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle." Which leads me to believe that you aren't special if you're riding a bicycle, so don't even try it. At the risk of sounding like old man Wilson, when I am at a stop sign, downtown, on tiny brick streets only large enough for my modest car, and there is no bike lane, PLEASE stay the hell behind me until the light turns green! Do not try to squeeze in beside me or slip in front of me, I have no idea how to react to that once the light changes...I have a hard enough time figuring out those roundabouts much less knowing how close I am to hitting you with your take-all-day peddling and wobbly equilibrium.

Another pet peeve of mine is the ability for every bicycle in the world to want to ride on the sidewalk when I am trying to water the dog. If you are able to obey every traffic sign and rule like motor vehicles...the streets are yours! Why use the sideWALK! Despite my evil stares I just play David to the cyclists' Goliath, but in this situation I lose and dodge at the last minute, my only warning being an ominous "To your left!" coming from behind as I struggle to pull poor Olive's leash back in.
Here are a few things I found in the Florida Bicycle Regulations:
I. A person operating a bicycle may not ride other than upon or astride a permanent and regular seat attached thereto.
!tThis would unfortunately nix the side-saddle approach I have seen as of late.

II. A bicycle may not be used to carry more persons at one time than the number for which it is designed or equipped, except that an adult rider may carry a child securely attached to his or her person in a backpack or sling.
! I don't know about you but I don't carry my sling with me in public.

III. Except as provided in paragraph (a), a bicycle rider must carry any passenger who is a child under 4 years of age, or who weighs 40 pounds or less, in a seat or carrier that is designed to carry a child of that age or size and that secures and protects the child from the moving parts of the bicycle.
! Sling not applicable here.
Lastly, let's talk motorcycles and I-4 shall we? Driving in Central Florida is hard enough these days what with the sweltering heat, construction and general belief that everyone MUST take Interstate 4 to go anywhere, but pepper that with cyclists maneuvering their way through stand still traffic like a Brazilian in a theme park queue line, and you have one aggravating pressure cooker of a situation. I drive defensively so I don't really get upset with every little thing but somehow I don't see the relevance of endangering yourself by cutting through traffic (called lane splitting just so you know) just because you are small enough or nimble enough to do so. And if you are a Harley rider, don't even try to tell me you are small enough to fit through there...saddle bags! I sometimes wonder what would happen if I suddenly had to open my car door. I know that lane splitting is common practice in true metropolitan areas like Los Angeles and is widely observed and tolerated but after doing some searching, I have found that this practice is actually illegal in Florida. Section 316.209. Check it out!
Until there's a day when a seperate lane exists for bikes, motorcycles, Semi's, in-line skaters, women with baby carriages, old people, school children, ugly cars, very ugly cars and the rest of them ... until there is basically you, your radio and no obstacles ... I suppose we should do the nice thing and, according to your Florida Driver Handbook you barely glanced at, "...treat each other with care and respect. Adherence to the law is the foundation of respect." What he said.

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