Tuesday, April 11, 2006

A Grievance Against the Cyclists, Bladers, Walkers, Joggers and Motorists of this Fine City

"You... shall not... PASS!" ~Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings

Spring officially began almost a month ago, but the thermometer is only just beginning to reflect the season. This means the traffic on city bike paths has picked up considerably as people trade in their gym memberships for a little fresh air. While I certainly understand the impetus for the gravitation outdoors, the end result makes me very, very unhappy.

But rather than stand by and suffer in silence, I've opted to use this medium to "speak" to my fellow park-goers:

To walkers oblivious to the menagerie of people around them:
There are cyclists, rollerbladers, joggers, and (sometimes) skateboarders all trying to use this blacktop path. The sidewalks, and lush grass fields — each only a few paces over! — were made for people like you. Use them.

To the parents pushing a stroller while talking on the phone and smoking cigarettes:
It's nice that you're in a park and all... but what sort of mixed messages are you sending that kid? If intelligence is genetic, I bet s/he never grasps the concept of irony.

To joggers wearing headphones who stay in the middle of a lane:
Either take off the headphones so you can hear me when I announce my presence or stick to the gravel path. This isn't an 8-lane highway. I can't get around you if you don't move over.

To roller bladers, in general:
The way you gather speed requires you take up an entire lane. I understand that. But for my purposes, you are the equivalent of two cyclists absolutely ignorant of the world around them. You don't own exclusive rights to the pavement. And, even better, my bike is designed to go faster than your blades. Stand up straight for a minute; glide on the momentum. And LET ME PASS.

To those who rollerblade while talking on cell phones:
How do you do it? I mean, how do you talk on your cell phone while keeping your pace, remaining courteous to other park-goers AND ultra-aware of your surroundings?

Oh, that's right. You don't.

To those cycling — and talking — alongside their friends:
I'm behind you, waiting for one of you to get over. I can't pass because people are coming from the opposite direction. If your conversation is so important that it's worth stopping traffic by never cycling over 8 mph... pull over, finish the conversation, and then resume riding at a normal pace.

To the friends who ride side-by-side even if that requires one person be in the wrong lane:
When I'm heading north in the northbound lane, and I'm passing pedestrians and the like, I won't necessarily see the southbound person in my lane in enough time to avoid a collision. People like you are the reason I got into an accident last year.

To the cyclist who passed me while listening to music:
I slowed down for a pedestrian, who was in the middle of my path. When I said "on your left," he moved over. When I began to pass, you had decided to pass me unannounced. This forced you into the wrong lane, nearly causing you to collide with two others coming in the opposite direction. Disaster was averted only because they — and not you — were paying attention.

Take off the headphones.

To the people who double-park in the bike lane on city streets:
Please, by all means, reclaim the pavement. I don't need that lane, and I'm terribly sorry you couldn't find an empty spot in front of your friend's house. Besides, this will give me the opportunity to ride over car tops — something I've only seen in movies, but have always wanted to try myself.

Or here's another idea: drive your car down another block or two, find a LEGAL place to park, and then walk back. Just a thought.

Together, with your help, we can make the city park experience more pleasant for those cyclists, joggers, walkers and rollerbladers who are cautious, courteous and attempting to get their heart rate — not their blood pressure — above a snail's crawl.

(Excuse the cliche.)

Thank you.

Road sign borrowed from this site.


michele said...

Ha! I can't say I've had all of these experiences or gripes, but as a runner, I've experienced plenty enough of the 'have to run into the street to get around you' or the 'have to stop suddenly because you weren't looking when you started backing out of the driveway' I mean yes, it's rare that someone is actually on the sidewalk, but it does happen. I hear you - hang in there! They'll all retreat again when the temperature rises to summer heat :)

Winter said...

Try posting this at the park. Put it in english and spanish to make it look offical.

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

I've battled some of those same obstacles jogging, too. Another danger: few people honk before they leave alleys.

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

Not a bad idea. Wonder if I could pull that off without getting caught?

Winter said...

Bring a friend to do something distracting.. I suggest juggling small animals..

XOXO said...

I know some people who juggle if you are interested.

XOXO said...

You always seem like the silent warrior type. I'm glad you have an outlet for your frustration. Do you suppose you could ride your bike over for some chocolate coffee cake? It sure does sound good!!

Mollie said...

This does sound incredibly frustrating--and a very inconvienent location to give birth!

Anonymous said...

AMEN! Anyone who doesn't stick to the right edge of the path unless they are passing are a hazard. Anyone who wears headphones while excersizing is asking to get hurt. I wish you could pond this into everyone's head.