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Part 1: Mark Baumer Reflection: Impounding Vehicles & Immigrant Rights

This is part of a multi-part reflection I've been doing following the death of my friend, Mark Baumer . There's nothing graphic i...

Honk! Honk!

It's a good reminder sometimes that the reason drivers are so out of line in Providence is not that they're evil, but because they're on poorly designed streets. Hell if anyone ever stops like this for me on S. Water St., but they probably don't see me as well as a whole line of Canadian Geese.

To that end, I have a technology recommendation, which is unusual for me (where can you find the "coolest clipless shoes" or the "finest carbon fiber" reviews? Not here. I hate that shit. . . ). I have these battery-lit LED Christmas lights strung up on my bike, and they've proven a great improvement for my mental health. I suggest you get some (they're like $20 for a two-wheel set) and go riding at night. It'll make a true believer of you about how street design rather than people's personalities is the fontline of all driving mistakes.

I was riding home along S. Water St. the other night, from Waterfire no less, and the lights gave me a great thing. Here's what was said to me out the car windows:

Driver 1 (whizzing by too fast): Great lights!
Driver 2 (also whizzing by too fast, then speeding up even more): Get on the fucking sidewalk! 
Driver 3 (yep, too fast): Your bike is awesome!
Driver 4 Yeah!

What do we learn here (mind you, with a very anecdotal sample size)? 3 out of 4 drivers like bikes on the road and will hang out their window in order to say so if there's a good reason. The last 25% are aggressive, awful people. The actual numbers are probably different, you know, but let's just say that this proves the wisdom that most people are nice. At minimum it also shows that no amount of being nice will make you behave on a road that makes you feel like you're not speeding when you are. And here's why I say you should get some lights (or perhaps a Canadian goose) to tie onto your bike: you will be a lot happier as a person knowing that the struggle in life is changing how the road is built than you will be if you think your struggle is with people.

Until we have roads that constrict bad driving, good drivers will go way too fast, and bad drivers will act like they own the road. It just takes that one person yelling out the window to ruin a whole ride, and for most people that will be the last they ever get on a bicycle. But on S. Water St. I encounter someone yelling at me 100% of the time. At least one person out of that line of people always yells. It's just that usually it's during the day so I don't get the positive reinforcement along with it (I do get the universal speeding).

Honk! Honk! Protected bike lanes! Build 'em!


1 comment:

  1. Good story and good lights.
    Maybe RIDOT should hire some geese to slow traffic.
    Anecdotal evidence of critical mass of biking affecting motorist behavior:on East Bay path crossings,motorists often stop even when they have the right of way, I suspct because they are aware there is lots of biking and higher chance they or someone in their famly bikes. InNorth Providence,devoid of bike paths, bike lanes, and not much bikers, motorists almost never do that.