Friday, May 6, 2016

MAY - Amateur Bicycle Month?

This should be, in every way, one of the premiere months to ride a bicycle in Boise. But I always have mixed emotions.

While the weather has turned for the better, and the fragrance of springtime blossoms hangs in the air... it is also the month when the casual cyclists show up en masse.

Some are probably just out of practice. Some are incompetent. Some seem to be willfully ignorant of the rules, and/or oblivious to their surroundings. They ride as though they have an invisible force field, that will protect them from encounters with other road-goers.

They seem to be causing an inordinate amount of carnage this year. In the past 36 hours, there have been at least three motor vehicle vs. bicycle injury accidents.

In the first, a cyclist collided with a cement truck at 2:30 in the morning, sustaining "serious lower-body injuries." Dude! I feel sorry for the guy... BUT! Seriously! If you can't identify the possible threat from a cement truck at 2:30 in the morning and take evasive action, maybe stay off the bike! (Details are still emerging, but I'm willing to lay down money that the cement truck driver's story is, "I didn't see him.")

In another incident, half-a-day later, a guy sustained life threatening injuries when according to witnesses, he rode onto a busy street, directly into the path of a car that had a green light. It's a bit risky to ride into the path of a car when your light is green and his is red. When your light is red? Nigh unto suicidal!

And then this afternoon (the very next day), I was witness to the aftermath of a car-bike crash I haven't seen reported yet. I rode up onto the scene. A young fella, maybe 11 or 12, was sitting (at least he wasn't lying!) in the road, surrounded by helpful citizens. A pickup was blocking one lane. Another young fella about the same age was looking on with a helpless expression from the side of the road; he was holding up a bicycle with a twisted front wheel. I could hear the first responders converging - I cleared out. Based on just that, it's pretty hard to assign responsibility.

Does "who's responsible" matter? The people who are responsible are the most likely to say it doesn't matter. I believe it's very important, to determine where more attention might be warranted, in both enforcement and education.

A half-hour before I rode thru the accident scene, I had my own close encounter with a couple incompetents on bikes. They both looked to be in their early 20s. I first encountered them as I arrived at a busy intersection just as rush hour was beginning. They were running a red light; I had to brake to avoid colliding with the second guy. I turned and followed... because that was the direction of my travel. I was happy when they took the sidewalk, leaving a clear bike lane for me to go by. But - lo and behold! - at the next curb cut, the front guy came off the sidewalk and back into the bike lane without warning, right into the space I was occupying. He was riding like he was alone on his private highway. I hollered "hey"! (The equivalent of a horn.) He took great umbrage at my shout, and of course his response was the universal/Neanderthal/all-purpose "Be fruitful and multiply!" Only not in those words. (Did he feel embarrassed? Or was he so totally clueless that he didn't realize the near-miss he was responsible for? I'll never know.) Sigh...

Well... they say that May is "Bike Month." Nice to see people out enjoying it, I s'pose. And Boise Bike Week is coming up, May 14-21! Look over the schedule and join an event or three! I always enjoy the Pedal Power Parade (Saturday 5/21, 5pm); I plan on being there with the granddaughters.

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