miserable bike trip – a vision of the future

This past Wednesday evening I had one of the worst bike trips in recent memory.

Going to a friends’ for dinner around 6pm, I found the stretch down Beacon Street Cambridge from Inman Square to Park Street to be THE WORST!

Not only is the bike lane (and the rest of the road) in poor repair once you hit Somerville, but the bike traffic was INSANE!  It was cold out, and I wasn’t expecting such a lot of bicycle riders.  They say it’s good for all of us when more people are cycling, but the reality of a lot of people cycling is a huge mess.

Some people observed the rules of the road, stopping in a line at a red light.  Other people cut the line.  Some people just sped right through, cars be damned.

People were riding at a huge variety of speeds.  A couple were cycling side by side having a conversation.  Another guy was riding at 15mph between the other cyclists and the cars.  Some people had lights, some didn’t.  Some kept cutting lines at stop signs or red lights, but then were riding wicked slow so others kept overtaking them anyway.

The bottom line?  Aggravating and dangerous!

The worst part about this is, it looks to me like the future.  More and more people are riding bikes in the city, which I theoretically love.  Bring them on.  But this is the Boston area where people don’t know how to drive, and they are now out there not knowing how to bicycle.  A scene like last night made me re-evaluate how I feel about bikes on the road.

Solutions: Basically, I think the police do need to enforce bicycle road rules.  Those police should be on bikes.  I don’t think bicycles need to follow exactly the same rules as cars all the time, though.

Speed: I think we need two lanes of bicycle traffic in each direction – a slow lane and a passing lane.

Red lights: Rules need to be enforced for this.  I think bikes should be able to treat them as stop signs, and can go ahead if nobody is coming, but they do at least need to stop.  I think the bicycles need to stop behind each other in line in an orderly fashion.  None of this bullshit where everyone pulls up in front of each other and clogs the front line of traffic.  That blows.

Bike lights: Front and rear should be required for all bicycles in the dark and in the rain.  No exceptions.

Signaling: Bikes (and cars!) need to signal when they are slowing down, stopping, or turning.  Every time.

Stop for pedestrians: Come on, people, we all have to get off our bikes sometime!

I’ll be interested to see how this all pans out in but in the meantime, the bottom line: POLITENESS COUNTS!

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