Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Losing Momentum: NOT an excuse for not stopping!

This post is borrowed from Dave Moulton's Bike Blog.

Dionette Cherney (Right.) who was hit by a cyclist while crossing a San Francisco street has died from her injuries.
That makes me both sad and extremely angry.
This unfortunate lady’s death was totally unnecessary; it was rush hour, she was crossing in a crosswalk with a green light, and now she is dead because a cyclist decided not to stop but to push through the crowd of pedestrians.
This not stopping by cyclists has to stop; it is total bull@#$%. It is a stupid habit many bike riders have, and there is no logical reason for it.
I am not being critical of the cyclist who rolls S-L-O-W-L-Y through a deserted intersection on a residential street. I am talking of the failure to yield to pedestrians, or to other vehicles that arrived first at busy stop signs and red lights.
If anyone wants to argue that in both instances cyclists are breaking the law I will have to plead no contest. However, the big difference is that the latter is rude and anti-social; it pisses people off, and in this case someone has died because of it.
Forget that 811 pedestrians were hit by cars in San Francisco last year, while only 18 were hit by a bicycle; that is not the point. Unless a pedestrian steps directly into the path of a speeding cyclist, no one should get killed or seriously injured by a bicycle.
Nearly every complaint I hear about cyclists revolves around the fact that cyclists hate to stop; or in many cases, even hate to slow down.
The reason; they will lose their precious momentum. Are they that fucking lazy that they can’t slow or stop and make the effort start again?
All it takes is get out of the saddle give a few hard pumps on the pedals and you are back up to speed again. The ones with the potential to do serious damage are the ones who have reached a level of fitness that stopping and starting again should not even be an issue.
I witness this bullshit behavior almost on a daily basis; riding on a local bike path. I see cyclists buzz past pedestrians without warning or any attempt to slow down; in many cases there are small children around who are totally unpredictable and extremely vulnerable.
There are a couple of places where the path crosses a street and you can hear cars approaching and if they are close you can even see them. Why anyone would ride a bicycle from a bike path onto a road with a car approacing is beyond my comprehension.
Yet I see cyclists not even attempt to stop but rather make a hard left, ride towards the oncoming traffic, forcing the car to swerve towards the center of the road. They then continue riding until the road is clear and do a U-turn to double back to the path.
If a car approaches in the far lane from the opposite direction, they pull the same maneuver and make a hard left into the near lane without stopping. In most cases the car will stop because the driver has no idea what this idiot is about to do. The cyclist then turns in front of the car without so much a hand signal, or thank you wave.
All this just to avoid losing that little bit of precious momentum. All types of cyclists, across the board; even people on cruiser bikes, wearing street clothes and no helmet, and not traveling at any great speed. But already they have learned that momentum must be maintained at all costs. It is a habit these cyclists have formed; probably at the same time they first learned to ride a bike.
It is a habit born out of laziness; what other reason can there be. Like all habits it can be broken, but only if there is a willingness to change on the of part the individual. If a person is riding a bike to stay in shape, stopping and starting again is increasing your rate of effort; it is a form of interval training.
Resist the urge to keep moving at all cost and embrace stopping and starting as part of your exercise regime.
If nothing else by stopping when a cyclist is supposed to stop takes away the biggest complaint both motorists and pedestrians have against us all. Yes, all of us; I'm sure I get less respect on the road because of the poor habits of others. As I have said before; stop handing them the stick to beat us with.
Slowing down or stopping when it is called for, and the resulting loss of momentum is not your enemy, it is a ticket to increased strength and fitness and greater respect from others with whom we are obliged to share the road.

Couldn't have said it better myself!

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