Fight For Your Right To Party!

> Baltimore, Md: My boyfriend was recently side swiped by a car on
> Charles Street in Baltimore. (He is okay.) He was riding with traffic
> on a one way road with parked cars on both sides. He exchanged info
> with the driver only to discover that her insurance would not accept
> fault because he was riding closer to the parked cars and not “in the
> lane.” Can you offer any advice?

Absolutely … This is similar to the rant that I posted here two weeks ago. While bike lanes are advisory in nature they are not mandatory. They couldn’t be. If a cyclist needed to make a left turn, that cyclist should and would be expected to merge left earlier than the end of the bike lane to make the turn. yada, yada. My reading of the driving handbook has bicycles, tractors and segways and anything else in a travel lane being treated as a vehicle that should be negotiated—not run over. That is regardless of the lane markings. If a car hit another because it was driving on the lane marker would that exempt them from paying? You gotta fight that. This issue partly illustrates my point made the other day.

Bike lanes create a confusion in the mind that implies that cyclists need to get over to the right at all times regardless of speed and that notion of “all times” represents a level of trepidation unrealized in real life. On a frequent ride that I take often, I crest a narrow two lane street on a steep hill. Moving over to the right (as we are told to do—”slower vehicles to the right”) gives cars just enough room to squeeze by—dangerously. Sometimes my ability to navigate the road safely is threatened by this reality. It’s incumbent upon me to use my common sense to use the street safely rather than to end up in a ditch because some non-thinking Suburban driver needed to get to the Starbucks fifty seconds earlier than they might make it otherwise.

So, get a lawyer….(and always call the police). In this case, the cyclists I think was doing everything right. Over as far as possible. Get too far over and you’ll get doored. If these were cars, it might come down to who had “position” first, so absolute fault is not “clear” in that the cyclist—in theory—could’ve turned into the car.

So few officials actually ride… I mean, really ride. They have no idea of the shortfalls that exist in this regard. How is that possible?

—Chris Jones


Message Posted to the MBAC Boards

As a cyclist, I really must take issue with the unregulated driving habits of motorists within this city. Today, I was treated to the incivility of a woman who honked at me as I descended Lake Avenue towards Falls Road. She was behind me. Any cyclist reading this post knows that you’re going approximately 60kph per hour down that hill at top speed when the speed limit is 30mph which translates to about 45kph.

Ill-advisedly, I allowed myself to escalate things by having words with the driver, who tried to preface by mentioning her “miles of riding experience”—my response to which I can’t publish. I “mentioned” to her that at that speed how dangerous it would be for her to pass, to which her response was “she was late for work”. BTW, she took time out of her busy schedule to argue with me.

As someone who’s not connected to government(and never likely), nor is actually on the MBAC board, I fortunately have the ability to speak for myself in recognizing the questionable will set forth by the city in putting bike lanes over potholes, failing to enforce vehicle’s speed limits through most of the city, while efforts are put in place to encourage people to dust off their bikes to cycle to work and make it a part of their everyday life.

If someone were to ask me where to cycle as a beginner (or relative newcomer), I’d tell them to go to the airport or the county. There really is no safe haven for cyclists here.

The myth about bike lanes is that it implies that a cyclists is to make way under all circumstances—at any speed. And unfortunately, I feel that this is misleading and the true circumstances is more similar to road racing where slower vehicles make way when the speed
is completely dissimilar and the road is safe (ascending hills, etc.) Cyclists are vehicles and in traffic conditions are to make certain that they use the road in a manner that makes the road safe for them.

Knowing that motorists would be completely fine running a cyclist off the road or rolling through a stop sign at the disadvantage to a cyclist changes some of these issues with respect to a cyclist’s safety. I’m loathe to criticize because my history in cycling is one of fend for myself and have learned to do so quite adroitly. Some of my instinct and action goes beyond the recreational nature of painted lines, etc. And that it unlikely to change.

Not to mention the lack of safety: We were treated to a post on here some weeks ago about how a guy from Pakistan thinks that East Baltimore is actually worse than Karachi, as he had been assaulted numerous times on his way o Hopkins Hospital only to be further insulted by the lack of empathy from the authorities… (other stories are in hand).

Also, who deals with sewer grates? On the Falls Road bridge heading north, there is a sewer grate that would swallow any cyclists unaware of it. I say all this knowing that there a few people who do actually ride AND have a connection to City Hall and whatever they call headquarters in the county. There is a major difference between some of the recreational implementations taking place and their ability to make things safer for real cyclists. Until that gulf is bridged, the Baltimore region will continue to live in question of what it could be.

"It's Saturday, Man. Don't Ruin Your Day."

It’s so rare that I talk stress-free bike rides. Today is no different. Unless you ride at or before 6AM, it’s real difficult to have a pristine ride when dealing with Baltimore traffic.

Today, I got in a verbal altercation with a woman who was late for work. My answer to her: “Who Cares?” She honked at me coming down Lake Avenue towards Falls Road. The speed limit is 30mph. I was going 60kph (40mph) through most of it. With no run-off, there’s no way I let you past me. So she could what be right in front and make a turn in front of me.

Here, bike lanes deceive people into believeing that cyclists should move over at all times on all roads and frankly, drivers are crazy: they rush past you to make a turn in front and dumb stuff like that. You just can’t trust it.

I learned two things though: After arguing with her and the cars we held up as we argued I checked my heart monitor and noted that my heart rate was 172bpm, the same as it would be if I was ascending a steep hill, and all the time she thought she’d save she wasted arguing with me. It also occurs to me how much of a waste of time it is to get mad at these idiots.

In her argument she starts off talking about her riding 5000 miles. The answer I gave her is not something I’d publish. I don’t care if the Pope was responding to a Papal emergency at 60kph you don’t get in front of me, period. Then she implies that since she’s late for work I should understand—but then she spends a whole light cycle arguing with me.

It was really unpleasant especially for the people behind us as we took up the travle lanes to argue (I wasn’t late for work)… Eventually our confrontation subsided, but only as some guy comes over to me reminding me that it was indeed Saturday. Even then, I realized it was too late to save my ride.