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Old 08-12-13, 07:58 PM   #1
Papa Tom
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Long Island: A Confession

I feel like such a jerk. But the guy had it coming to him...

Tonight, as I drove my car down Berry Hill Road toward Teddy Roosevelt Beach in Oyster Bay, I came upon a sweaty, shirtless cyclist who appeared to be in his mid 70's. He was wearing nylon short-shorts with half his junk hanging out and he was rolling along at an above average speed. At first, I grinned to myself and thought about how awesome it was for a guy with 25 years (or so) on me to be tearing up the road at such a clip, his bushy grey beard dripping sweat onto his top tube and his wrinkly, hairy arm skin flapping in the breeze.

Then he blew the first STOP sign. And not just a STOP sign on a back road with no traffic. I'm talking a STOP sign where three cars, including myself, were hitting our brakes. Now, trust me...this was no oversight on his part. The guy, who had been swerving a little too far into the center of the road just before this point, clearly intended to ignore the sign. "A-hole!" I mumbled under my breath.

Then, as expected, he blew the next STOP sign. Then he ran a red light at Berry Hill and Rt. 106, a busy four-way intersection with a bottleneck that causes enough trouble WITHOUT a renegade bicyclist stirring things up. To make matters worse, in the middle of the intersection, which had slowed down to allow a woman to make a left into a gas station just north of the whole mess, he started weaving in and out of cars at full speed, causing SUV's and Beemers to jam on their brakes and honk their horns in total disgust and disbelief.

So why do I feel like a jerk? Because from this moment forward, I actually started messing with the guy, subtly, but with sinister intent. I caught up and, unlike all the other cars that were veering way over into the oncoming traffic lane to avoid him, I pulled beside him, leaving only about two feet between us, and I coasted with him for about a mile, looking straight ahead the whole time, as if I didn't know he was there. And as I approached a corner, I pulled slightly to the right as if to make a right turn, but in reality, just to block him from blowing through.

Of course, I never did - and never would - put a person in danger, but this was way more aggressive than I've ever been, especially with a bicyclist. For me, this guy, old enough to know much better, represented everything everybody finds repulsive about bicyclists. He's the reason people honk at me and other cyclists on the road just to express their disdain. Although I have never had a physical confrontation with anyone in my life, I felt like I could have pulled that guy off his bike and pounded him for being such a jackass.

As mentioned in a recent post of mine, Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano passed legislation this week to require designers of all new roads in the county to consider including accommodations for bicycles. With idiots like this on the road, I'm not sure we deserve it.
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Old 08-13-13, 05:35 PM   #2
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Well.....

Putting it into perspective, there are far many more folks driving around doing things as dumb if not worse in a automobile.

At least with a fool on a bike, there's a chance that his luck will run out and the gene pool will be a bit cleaner. That's less likely with way too many drivers, protected in their 4,000lbs air-bagged steel chariots. They crash, they walk away, they learn nothing.

SB
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Old 08-13-13, 05:53 PM   #3
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Good point, Steve. And thanks for posting something here. I was beginning to think I'd gone too far when 77 people read the post and 0 responded!
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Old 08-14-13, 09:00 AM   #4
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For me, this guy, old enough to know much better, represented everything everybody finds repulsive about bicyclists. He's the reason people honk at me and other cyclists on the road just to express their disdain....As mentioned in a recent post of mine, Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano passed legislation this week to require designers of all new roads in the county to consider including accommodations for bicycles. With idiots like this on the road, I'm not sure we deserve it.
Very well put. I have this thought every day.

Bicyclists' biggest problem in terms of safety is cars; but our biggest problem politically is ourselves. While a car running a red light or a stop sign is a far more serious safety issue than is a bike doing so, and while this type behaviour is by no means rare for drivers, the sad fact is that it's absolutely commonplace for bicyclists.

Anyone who wants to argue against the expansion of bike infrastructure needs only to stand at any intersection and tally up the number of bicyclists who run red lights, while comparing that total to the scant few who follow the law. Rampant bicyclist misbehaviour gives our enemies the ability to ignore the comparatively much larger danger of driver misbehaviour while they focus on the highly visible scofflaw bicyclists to make their case against us. We're literally giving our enemies free ammuntion.

We bicyclists are all judged by the idiots amongst us. But the terrible reality is that the idiots are in the majority.
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Old 08-14-13, 03:23 PM   #5
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I see your point and I also ahte idiot cyclists. However, in reply to the post where this At least with a fool on a bike, there's a chance that his luck will run out and the gene pool will be a bit cleaner. is said. Often when cyclists like this luck runs out, it is at the expense of someone who is minding the rules of the road, or otherwise obeying the law and is caused unnecessary inconvenience and heartache that may come from hitting and injuring or even killing a cyclist even though the incident was no fault of theirs. Do cyclists like this often tempt fate?....yes. But I would not want to be the one who delivers their karma to them.

Cheers,

Brian J.
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Old 08-14-13, 03:47 PM   #6
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Papa Tom, some people are so far out of line as to defy belief. I find it surprising that such dangerous behavior has not brought disaster down upon their heads. I understand how you likely felt, that that kind of behavior reflects badly on all of us and we will probably suffer consequences. That idiot may well reach the end of the line sooner than otherwise.
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Old 08-14-13, 05:46 PM   #7
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[QUOTE=baj32161;15961082 But I would not want to be the one who delivers their karma to them.

Cheers,

Brian J.[/QUOTE]

Me neither. But I'm also not getting too upset when somebody who is probably aware of the idiocy of his actions and rides the way he does, gets nailed.

I bike commute in the Rockaway's. Long before they added the bike lane on Rockaway Beach Blvd., I would observe on my daily eastbound segment, typically during the summer month's, at least 2 -3 local cyclists (beach cruisers or rusted mt. bikes, flip-flops, tank tops, cut-off's, etc...) riding the wrong way along a 2 mile stretch of road. Adding the bike lane, which is clearly marked as to which direction cyclists should be riding, has not changed anyone's behavior.

I call them the "Rockaway Wrong-Way's". I have exchanged words on a few occasions with the egregious and glaring examples of bad riding, such as turning into oncoming traffic (me) without looking. There is no possibility of enlightening any of these numbnuts as to why it would be a good idea to not ride against oncoming traffic.

If they get killed, all the better, is my opinion, harsh as it sounds.
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Old 08-14-13, 06:47 PM   #8
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Whoa!!!! I'm not advocating killing anybody! If arrogance is deserving of the death penalty, then we'd be wishing death on all who text and drive, all who turn without signaling, all who talk during a movie, all who eat with their mouths wide open, and all who commit scores of other obnoxious offenses. Soon, there'd be no one left alive to complain about.

What bothered me most about my own behavior is how I appointed myself some kind of Common Courtesy Vigilante and pursued this guy as if my screwing with him (and, OK, maybe making him nervous enough to cause an accident) was going to somehow fix a self-absorbed attitude that had probably taken this man 70+ years to develop. As cyclists, we cannot change the "idiots" among us any more than we can change the "idiots" among motorists. But I think until all the reckless bicycle scofflaws out there cut the crap and grow up, we have no business expecting the powers-that-be to automatically treat us with the respect we think we deserve.

PS: Baj - Is Tucker's Marketplace Buffet still as awesome as it always was?

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Old 08-15-13, 08:07 AM   #9
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So, do we need to license bicyclists? People who ride the wrong way, "salmons", can we find a way to educate them out of their folly? Not thinking long or deeply here, but by requiring licenses we would probably not influence the arrogant ones so maybe it's a useless idea. Thoughts?
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Old 08-15-13, 11:16 AM   #10
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So, do we need to license bicyclists? People who ride the wrong way, "salmons", can we find a way to educate them out of their folly? Not thinking long or deeply here, but by requiring licenses we would probably not influence the arrogant ones so maybe it's a useless idea. Thoughts?
I saw someone on a citibike on 8th ave getting a ticket yesterday - not sure what for. Presumably for running a red light which both pedestrians and bicyclists do at virtually every intersection going uptown on 8th ave in NYC. I ride that way in the afternoons to get to Penn. Lot's of pedestrians crossing against the light that I have to brake to avoid - an equally large number of bicyclists crossing against the light as well.

Not sure there is an answer.
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Old 08-15-13, 11:24 AM   #11
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I saw someone on a citibike on 8th ave getting a ticket yesterday - not sure what for. Presumably for running a red light which both pedestrians and bicyclists do at virtually every intersection going uptown on 8th ave in NYC. I ride that way in the afternoons to get to Penn. Lot's of pedestrians crossing against the light that I have to brake to avoid - an equally large number of bicyclists crossing against the light as well.

Not sure there is an answer.
I've always been of the opinion that NYC's budget issues could be solved by ticketing jaywalkers in Manhattan.
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Old 08-15-13, 11:26 AM   #12
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Tom, I generally like your posts, and am a fan of yours, but I have to say you were dead wrong here. Your instincts about having been ashamed about this are right. Now, that's not to say that I would have done any differently, or would chastise you for doing it, but let's be clear, you were using a multiple thousand pound vehicle to "mess with" a guy on a bike. Regardless of your reasons or the lack of bad outcome that is the wrong thing to be doing. Full stop.
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Old 08-15-13, 11:31 AM   #13
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Now that having been said. Next time get a pic.
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Old 08-15-13, 02:37 PM   #14
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>>>>Regardless of your reasons or the lack of bad outcome that is the wrong thing to be doing<<<<

Totally agree, but let me clarify that, had I sensed that the guy had gotten the point and was feeling uncomfortable enough to make a sudden, dangerous move, I'd have aborted immediately. As a seasoned cyclist myself, I knew I wasn't really close enough at any point to put the guy in real danger. I was just trying to put the idea in his head that not every driver on the road was going to go out of his or her way to accommodate his reckless behavior. 'Nuff said.
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Old 08-16-13, 12:18 PM   #15
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I've always been of the opinion that NYC's budget issues could be solved by ticketing jaywalkers in Manhattan.
Motion seconded. You expand that concept to most towns. Jaywalkers, blatant speeders, wrong way cyclists, the list goes on.

I don't know where police are these days in most towns because I rarely ever see them.
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Old 08-19-13, 10:28 PM   #16
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>>>>Regardless of your reasons or the lack of bad outcome that is the wrong thing to be doing<<<<

Totally agree, but let me clarify that, had I sensed that the guy had gotten the point and was feeling uncomfortable enough to make a sudden, dangerous move, I'd have aborted immediately. As a seasoned cyclist myself, I knew I wasn't really close enough at any point to put the guy in real danger. I was just trying to put the idea in his head that not every driver on the road was going to go out of his or her way to accommodate his reckless behavior. 'Nuff said.
I never figured you for one to put someone in danger. Didn't for a moment think you would.
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