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Rach sent me a link that brightened my day. Remember that cop in New York that tackled a Critical Mass cyclist to the ground over the summer? Looks like he got his. So says the New York Times:

The officer, Patrick Pogan, has been instructed to report to State Supreme Court in Manhattan on Tuesday for the unsealing of the indictment…prosecutors were seeking felony charges of filing false records in connection with the police report that Officer Pogan filed after arresting the bicyclist, Christopher Long. Officer Pogan also could be charged with a misdemeanor count of assault.

After having been on the force for a whole 3 weeks, Pogan tackled Long, the cyclist, then arrested and pressed false charges against him.  This guy is a prick, and with any luck he’ll be losing his badge.  It scares me that this is what happened after a month on the force.  Classy move, it’s too bad they can’t all be Lennie Briscoe.

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My buddy Tony lives in Providence, and dropped me an email last night:

I was riding my bike home from work and some dick in a pick up truck flipped me off. Just honked, stuck out his arm and flipped me off like he was doing something as routine and obligatory as excusing himself after a burp. Guy on a bike? Flip! I mean…it seemed like he did it out of some weird sense of responsibility. I don’t know. It happens to all of us all the time, and I’m typically not one to give a shit when it happens to me but man, this one just stuck in my craw.

Having been to Providence a few times, with the exception of all the hills, it seems like a biker’s paradise. It’s a small city with a centralized downtown area, the roads seem wide, and there are TONS of bikes out there. I just can’t imagine where this pickup truck was headed that Tony caused such an inconvenience. Granted, I’m glad they flipped him off rather than buzzing him, but nonethless. I thought high school was over, but I guess the bully complex will never really go away.

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This morning on my ride into work, I saw a car door wide open. As I approached and saw a bicyclist wincing and breathing hard in front of the car, it clicked. “Did you get doored?” “Yeah”, he replied, and lifted up his shirt to show a half-inch deep, 4 inch long gash in his chest, starting around his collarbone, in the perfect shape of the corner of the door.

It’s easy to preach about how dangerous and stupid throwing your door open into traffic is, but to be completely frank, even when I’m driving I’m not as observant as I expect other motorists to be when I’m out biking. I drive so infrequently that I’ve lost the confidence that I suppose has shifted to my self assurance when biking. I think and hope that keeping an eye out for cyclists will become second nature in society as bikes become more and more present on the roads, but I expect most drivers won’t look for a bike before opening their door until that tragic one time where they connect with one.

When I first moved to the city, I walked, biked, and on occasion drove like I was still in the suburbs. Having never lived in an urban area, when my brother drives in the city he stops for pedestrians at an intersection when he has a green light and waits behind double-parked cars not realizing that they aren’t going anywhere. While stopping for folks at a crosswalk is great, doing so when traffic has a green is incredibly unsafe and impractical, and stopping behind a stopped car is simply innocence having likely never crossed paths with a stopped car with four-way flashers. I think programs like Anti-Dooring are great in raising awareness about the danger of bashing a person with a car door, but to be realistic, the only people visiting that site are cyclists.

i’m hanging out with my family today, and as we pulled out of the driveway this morning it was clear that my parents’ road was on a bike ride’s route. There were cyclists all over the place enjoying the cool clear autumn morning. As we approached a group of riders my dad began to honk in frustration because there were bikes going in both directions and he couldn’t pass. I tried to explain that the lanes are too narrow to safely pass and that they were doing the right thing by taking the lane. “but they can’t do that in both lanes!” “cars take up both lanes” i tried to explain. He clearly was annoyed with the bikes and i could tell i wasn’t getting through. Then my mom reminded him that on any other day that could easily be me, his son, that he is zipping past and honking at. For the rest of the ride he gave everyone plenty of space and took it a bit slower. I guess he needed that personal remimder because all the negotiating and explanations of road etiquette in the world would have fallen on deaf ears.

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Brenda sent me an email last week…

Have you seen this? When I think about my trip to Denmark, one of the first things that comes to mind is how they’ve incorporated their bike lanes. In some shots you’ll see that the bike lane is just a super wide strip painted blue but on most, there is a separate, raised bike lane. It’s really fantastic. If only Boston and other cities in the US could do something like this.

At first I didn’t see what was so remarkable about the bike traffic (aside from the number of cyclists). While watching the video I began to think of my ride in the morning through Cambridge where there are more people riding than the bike lanes can handle. There’s no room to safely pass and left turns are treacherous unless you’re at a light, and even then it gets pretty dicey. It would be pretty great to have double wide bike lanes, or even some of the bike boulevards that you can see in the video.

I find myself silently resenting slower riders in front of me, and now realize it’s not the slow bikers that are a problem, but the inability to pass safely. One of the biggest side effects of growing bike use in Boston has been the proportional lack on infrastructure and education to go along with it. More people riding bikes does have some backlash, bike theft in Cambridge made the top 10, more cyclists are vying same few miles of bike lanes, and many of the new riders haven’t quite got the hang of things yet. With more bike on the road, you inevitably get more idiots on bikes (luckily this means fewer of them are operating a three thousand pound vehicle); I have witnessed more and more close calls due to other cyclists darting on and off of the sidewalk or biking with a pedestrian’s mindset. Car drivers converting to bikes is great, but not when they bring their agressive driving habits or oblivious walking habits to the bike lanes.

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From VeloNews

The two cyclists were part of a Fourth of July ride that had climbed Mandeville Canyon Road, a popular cycling destination in Los Angeles’ affluent suburb of Brentwood. They had stayed behind the rest of the group to care for another cyclist who had fallen, and once he had been picked up by paramedics, began the descent together. Peterson, for his part, says he yelled back, but neither cyclist was prepared for what they said happened next: The driver pulled ahead of them as they descended the canyon road and slammed on his brakes.

Peterson went through the back window of Dr. Christopher Thompson’s burgundy Infinity sedan. Stoehr attempted to steer around the car but clipped the bumper and went over the bars, landing in the road in oncoming traffic. Thompson, a former emergency room physician, got out of the car, but rather than render aid, he continued to berate the two cyclists, according to witnesses.

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Every morning I wait with Holly for Tom to pick us up in Davis Square. Every morning I see the same handful of people riding their bikes past at around the same time each morning, but there’s always a few unfamiliar characters mixed in as well. Watching all the bikes and cars ride by, I see far more close calls than than you would think in about 15 minutes along a small one-way street. Even in the completely clear morning, motorists treat cyclists like they’re completely invisible. I see cars overtake bikes and cut them off, race up behind them, only to stop short as if the driver hadn’t looked up until the bike’s back tire was a foot away from his front bumper, and there are more car doors flown open in cyclists’ faces than I would care to think about.

How can this be fixed? Visibility is an constant concern for everyone who rides a bike, particularly urban cyclists riding at night. I can think of one Boston cyclist who has no trouble being seen, even though he rides day or night, with only one reflector strip and no lights. He is lovingly referred to as “screaming bike guy” and he is a Boston institution. He literally yells at the top of his lungs as he rides down the street, which leads me to consider the usefulness of visual aides versus audible ones. We as humans have a strange disconnect between what the eyes and ears perceive. For example, if I’m riding my bike in the bike path and see a car waiting to pull out and the driver isn’t looking at me, I can be pretty sure that they have no idea I’m there. If I yell, or make some other loud noise like ring a bell or honk a horn, I can get their attention and make myself known to that driver, causing them to turn their head to see me. By visual aides alone – lights, reflectors, a bright shirt – there is no way that I can get the attention of someone not looking at me. Obvious, I know, but there are plenty of us who ride as though flashing lights can be heard, and will cause a motorist to turn to see us.

Battle Scars

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Thanks to Mike for linking to State V’s “the stupidest bike lane in America” video. I agree with him, there’s got to be one or two in greater Boston that are less practical. I can think of one lane out there that puts it to shame.

As impractical as these may be, at least they’re there.