Thu 1 Nov 2007
I've had this rant brewing for a long, long time. Now it's serious. So serious that I've had to create a whole not post category on the blog. Here it is:
I am just so sweating, sputtering, stomping mad at Berkeley cyclists. Commuter cyclists, not the real kind. For so many reasons. Here's a group of people (myself included!) that bitches endlessly about dealing with cars in Berkeley. And yet it's so disrespectful of cars and pedestrians, laws and social customs that it singlehandedly creates the horrible tension and animosity that makes the motorists treat cyclists badly to begin with.
But I digress. I'm going to focus this cathartic rant on the single most inexplicable thing cyclists do. Here's what happens: I'm sitting at a red light, as I should since everyone knows cyclists have to abide by traffic laws. As I'm sitting, a second cyclist arrives from behind, and casually pulls up in front of me. The light turns green, the jackass cyclist pulls off first.
What? When did turn-taking get lost among cyclists? I got there first. If you pull up second, you'd better stay behind me and let me go first. I don't care if you pass me while we're riding, but for Jebus sake, wait your damn turn.
This amazes me because turn-taking is one of the social norms that we learn earliest in life – like when we're 2 years old. It appears in nearly every area of life, and yet somehow these cyclists forget about it. This is FIFO, not LIFO, people.
Now, I know what you're thinking, and I'm not buying it. I'm well aware that the cyclist's foremost priority is the law of conservation of momentum. If you're going to pull up to the light at the last minute so that you can roll through when it turns green, no problem. But these rat bastards aren't rolling. They're stopping. In front of me.
Do they all assume they're faster than me and so they'd have to pass anyway? That seems unlikely. The bulk of these people are just your average casual peddler. I'm a fairly decent cyclist. I go faster than 9 out of 10 riders I pass on my way around Berkeley. But I still wait my turn at a light, and pass when we move on. Shit, half of the people who stop in front of me at the light are people I blew by a few blocks back.
In the grand scheme of things, this is probably one of the lesser transgressions of your average Berkeley cyclist. So many things they do are way more dangerous. Like blowing straight through red lights and stop signs without looking. Like weaving in and out of traffic as though it was some kind of amusement park ride. Like Critical Mass (ugh!). And (OMG, this is the worst) riding the wrong way down a one way street, e.g. the four block stretch of Telegraph between Bancroft and Dwight.
Sure, some of those dumbasses get into accidents. But much worse is that those sorts of choices get other people into accidents while the stupid cyclist is on her merry way down the street. Sigh.