There is nothing I enjoy more on a stressful day than to go for a walk around Midtown. I love to watch the trees changing colors and losing leaves. I love the various dog walkers and their curious pooches, sniffing everything in sight. I love the craggy old men stumbling along, lost in thought. Most of all, I love going to Sutter's Fort and feeding the ducks who are always ecstatic to see me. That short walk is the perfect de-stressor to life and can elevate my day from so-so to good. The only thing that majorly detracts from this is the bicyclists.
First of all, I would like to state clearly that I have the utmost respect for those choosing walking, bicycling and using public transportation in lieu of driving a car. Gas lately, has been exorbitantly expensive plus the exhaust from cars is a major pollutant. The car symbolizes independence for the individual. Having a car means you can go anywhere at any time you want and provides the security of your own personal escape route. Walking or riding a bike flips the middle finger to this contention. Pedestrians and cyclists also have the liberty of going wherever we want at any time (albeit at a slower pace) and we are not doing it at the expense of the environment.
I have no problem with responsible cyclists that ride in the bike lanes. Those of you reading are completely expempt from this complaint. I also give leeway to the parents teaching their children how to ride their bicycles sans training wheels on the sidewalk. I was a kid once and it took me a really long time to get it. If my mother had thrust me into a bike lane as training, I may very well not be writing this now. As an adult, I ride in the bike lanes and feel very anxious of the cars speeding behind me.
What I do have a problem with is the experienced cyclists crowding the sidewarlk for the pedestrians. It is a common occurance that I see a group of pedestrians approaching a bicyclist going the opposite way. Rather than to give the pedestrians room, the cyclist flashes them a dirty look and whizzes past, nearly hitting them.
The sense of entitlement these cyclists have is inexcuseable. Most of Midtown has very nice, clearly defined bike lanes for them. I understand that the sidewalk is roomy and inviting for the cyclists and I understand that being in traffic with cars is daunting, to say the least. Drivers can be unpredicatble and pull into the bike lane to double park, causing the cyclist to halt or be forced on the sidewalk for safety.
I have also witnessed experienced cyclists whipping past the eldery using walkers around Sutter Hospital on numerous occasions. This confused the elderly. It often led them to comment to me about how rude it was to ride on the sidewalk when they had bike lanes. I have seen the same with parents holding the hands of toddlers, already unsteady on their feet. The cyclists whriled past the toddlers with barely any room between them and sped away. Toddlers are unpredictable. Who is to say that one might move over to look at a flower in a yard. The cyclist would collide with him.
A friend of mine is a devoted cyclist. She treks well more than a mile to work every morning. When I brought up my concerns, she was equally outraged. She stated that she always followed the bike lanes to work. However, she pointed out that the bike lanes were not as nice as I perceived. She said that they were often polluted with leaves and debris as well as double parked cars. In spite of all of this, she followed the rules.
I encourage bicycling wholeheartedly. I just want you bicyclists to reevaluate your sense of entitlement to the sidewalks of Midtown. There are many pedestrians- some of us with disabilities- and we deserve respect. Those angry looks you flash us for being on your sidewalk are unwarranted. You think you're the shiz-nite because you're green. Well, pedestrians are green as you are and it is our sidewalk too.