Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Thanks for making me feel like a Jerk

Something happened yesterday that involved myself (a PAA member), and another PAA member. What resulted was a harsh discussion about manners. Despite trying vigilantly to defend my brethren I left the conversation agreeing with the other Party.

I have read all our e-mails about the rose bowl, impolite drivers, thoughtless pedestrians and government agencies and how there is some dubious conspiracy against us, those who choose to roll in the two wheeled mode. I agree wholeheartedly. I also read these e-mails and often get a sense that we think of ourselves as saints and that we do no wrong. Again I have agreed in the past, although after last night not as much anymore.

When riding for training purposes in areas like a bike path I used to call out "left side" or "passing" or something like that. Until a couple times where I did that and the person I was passing then lunged left and nearly caused me to crash. Since then I've decided in most cases it's best to keep my mouth shut, slow down a little and give the other bicyclists plenty of room. I've always thought this to be the best policy as a bike path is a public area, and not my personal time-trial training course. Common Courtesy right? Apparently not.

It has been a long time goal to get my friend and her kids to ride bikes. I've loved riding my bike since I was a kid, so it has always been a little strange to me that these kids don't ride much. Finally after two years of prodding I got them to ride with me on the bike path by Griffith park. The younger one isn't too confident, so it's been tedious to keep him on the bike for the past month. So when a PAA member breezed by us giving him barely a foot of space when the other side of the path was completely open kind of pissed me off. He was only one of 5 "serious cyclist" who did that to us. there where some who even chose to pass as there was oncoming bicyclists, passing between us and the other party, going nearly 25 or 30 miles an hour, with no warning or slowing what so ever. I discussed it with my girlfriend nearly the rest of the ride home and we agreed, some cyclists are assholes. What frustrated me was the fact that I know the rider from PAA who I'm talking about. I've met him and he's a really cool guy; and in person, every one of you I've spoken with is pretty cool. What frustrated her was that it makes her feel unsafe, less safe than the hobos in the river make her feel. I understand that most of us are very skilled and deft at maneuvering around groups like this, but consider the other party for a bit. Shenanigans like that make her a lot less comfortable on the path, and make her not want to return. I shudder to think what would happen to our sport if we scared every mother and child off the road. Granted these kids may only be two more kids on a bike, but that's two more kids on bikes than before, and that's two kids closer to complete two wheel world domination... which I'm all for.

we've done everything we can to teach these kids proper bike path etiquette, common courtesy and manners when bicyling, thinking that these are lessons that they will take with them beyond the bike, into their driving years, and into life in general. I pray that when they get older they are not the drivers, pedestrians or government officials we so vehemently deride in our posts. And when I hear my friends nine year old say "why are riders like you such jerks" I can't help but think they are going grow up despising "riders like me" and I 'm pretty sure that all of us here, especially those with kids know what I'm afraid of. We talk day in and day out about the state of affairs in our sport, about PR in Pasadena and about all the things that affect us as cyclists now. But what about the future of the sport? What are we doing, publicly, to make sure that not only our kids, but all kids get on a bike and stay on a bike until adulthood?

What I took away from this experience is this: Despite it being a stupid ass song from the 80's, children are our future. so getting kids to ride bikes, and showing them how to ride properly and courteously should be ALL of our responsibility, if for nothing else than the future of our sport.

The bike path is a public place. Lots of families bring their kids there to teach them to ride since much of L.A. is unsafe for children. Cyclists like me go there because much of L.A. is unsafe for cyclists, however it's not our sports private training ground. When you see kids, give them lots of space, and slow down... it's not a fucking race.


Michael Sampiano said...

Well said Corey! I hope the kids try riding again and I hope you confront that guy.

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