06 May 2008

Cyclists vs. P.O.B.'s

What is it exactly that makes a person a cyclist? Not just owning or riding a bike - more on that later. Does wearing Lycra make you a cyclist? No, clothing doesn't have anything to do with it. Shaved legs? No, that is fodder for a future post. Type of bike? Wearing a helmet? Racer? Commuter? What then?

Everyone has their own opinions. And since you are reading this blog, you get to hear mine. In my opinion, a cyclist is someone who knows the rules and follows them. Someone who doesn't know or follow the rules is just a person on a bike (P.O.B.) Everyone has seen P.O.B.'s They are the people riding their department store bike that is either too small, or too large down the sidewalk, weaving back and forth, narrowly missing the pedestrians that are supposed to be on the sidewalk, or even worse, riding down the road the wrong way like a salmon swimming upstream.

So, what are the rules? There are several rules, but if you follow at least two basic rules, you will do fine: 1. By law, you are a vehicle. So, get off the sidewalk and act like one. and 2. Be predictable. Unfortunately helmet use isn't a law, but it is still a smart thing to do. If you are riding on the right side of the road, in a straight line, you are being predictable, acting like a vehicle, and other vehicles will be more likely to see you, and will be able to predict what you will do next. If you are riding on the sidewalk, jump onto the road going the wrong direction, then hop back onto the sidewalk to ride across a crosswalk and back to the road, you are acting like an idiot, and will eventually be hit by a car, because they aren't looking for you on the sidewalk, and don't have any more clue what you are going to do next than you do.

Why does this matter? One of my big pet peeves is being narrowly missed by some jerk riding their bike down the sidewalk, weaving in and out of pedestrians. Also, people in cars don't make the distinction between P.O.B.'s and cyclists, and if a P.O.B. is struck by a car, those of us who are out there following the rules are not trusted as much as we might have been before.

If it sounds like I am up on my soapbox about this, I am. I am very serious about bike safety. I make sure that my kids always wear their helmets when they are near their bikes, and I constantly reinforce safe riding practices. One good thing about the rising gas prices, is that there are more people riding their bikes instead of driving. The more of us out there, the more cars have to acknowledge our presence. But if we aren't following the rules, it just makes it more dangerous for all of us out there, cyclists and P.O.B.'s alike.


Kelly Hill said...

Hon, I wanted to let you know that I ran spellcheck for you as well as making a couple of cosmetic changes on this most recent post. Sorry! I will now stop interferring with your very own blog. I don't know what's wrong with me! ;)

Way to go with the quick training about POB's. Seriously! Although I'm not a bike nerd, I love one who is and many of your pet peeves are mine as well. We need to be safer as cyclists or POB's. Period. I'm afraid the people who will be reading this blog aren't the ones who need to. Keep up the good work in training the idiots!

Love you, k

Kelly Hill said...

Oh, and PLEASE don't get me started on the lycra and hairless legs!!!!!!!