Friday, June 15

The Moto-Fascist Review: Round-n-Round

At some point in the history of the world someone decided what Golden, Colorado really needed were round-a-bouts. A lot of them.

Whomever that person was (may they twitch in their grave) didn't bother to administer any skills tests to the citizens of Golden to determine if they could pull off driving through them.

Recently, due to federal pressure, the County approved the Moss Street extension into NREL (for really poor reasons) and put in yet another round-a-bout. During construction my ire was up because they were constructing narrow lanes with no bike facility.

After construction was complete I was somewhat happy to discover they had installed a "Bikes May Use Full Lane" sign. Not quite going the extra mile, it was better than nothing.

This very morning I decided I would brave the late(r) morning traffic and take South Golden Road in to work.

As I approached the new round-a-bout I let two cars pass before getting over into a distinct gap in traffic. When the lane narrowed and became constricted by curbs I was in the middle of said lane.

Then I heard the sickly chatter of a V-8 hitting on a fraction of its total number of cylinders immediately behind me. I glanced back to discover...well, all I could see was grill and hood a few inches behind me. And they were getting closer.

I looked up at the driver and began yelling and gesturing in an attempt to get him to back off, and all the while he kept trying to squeeze into the bike-wide space beside me.

Then I had to give my attention back to the impending round-a-bout. I pedaled on through still taking the lane. My heart was pounding, but not in fear. I. Was. Mad.

As we approached the open road again Mr Impatient revved his engine menacingly. I didn't get over to the right until there was ample room for him to pass, which he did with plenty of space for me, but he also flipped me off.

I hoped he would pull into some parking lot ahead so I could yell at him, but alas, he continued on through the obstacle course of round-a-bouts along South Golden Road.

A couple of points:

First, if you're going to take the lane...Take The Lane! Staying to the right of the drive lane invites motorists to pass. Sometimes it's not safe for motorists to pass, and at those times cyclists should not be inviting them to do so. By taking the lane you are saying to following motorists: "I have made the judgment call that it's not safe for you to pass me, please be patient."

Many motorists understand this. Some won't. Those that don't will see it as an attack on their very American freedoms and entitlements. Let them believe what they will, but don't invite them to pass until its safe to do so.

Secondly, as a cyclist, and therefore more vulnerable user, you must take and maintain control of constrictive or congested situations. If I had panicked and jerked to the right Mr Impatient would have tried to gun past me. There was absolutely not enough room for him to pass me between the curbs. Once I was committed to the lane I had to maintain my place.

It's sad that in a civilized society some groups are marginalized to the point of being shoved aside with no regard for their health or safety.

The problem is that roads are an uncivilized element of society. The common misperception is that the car is king, but while roads have existed since the beginning of time, cars are late comers, and detrimental to the civility that should exist on the roads.

The window of time that will be characterized by the domination of the automobile culture is going to be brief in history. You won't convince me otherwise.

My hope is that with the fading of the automobile will come some rational civility to fill the gaping hole that will be left.

I was going to craft a piece on MUT etiquette today, but that was before my moto-fascist encounter.

No comments:

Post a Comment