Thursday, September 24, 2009

It pulls a little to the Left.

It's been a long time sine the last post, but not as long as I've been commuting on a bicycle. Having never held a job to which I've had to drive a car or take public transport, there's more than a few urban assault miles behind me. And I'm not ashamed to admit that I take certain liberties with posted traffic regulations when I deem it safe to do so.

Contrary to some opinions, I'm of the school that taking a more aggressive approach to urban riding is actually safer than JRA with your thumbs in your belt-buckles and a self-righteous, law-abiding grin. Keeping your speed up and rolling though intersections (when there's nobody coming - I'm not suggesting you get in people's way) is certainly not inherently safer than the mellow alternatives, but it is worthy of paying attention--both for you, who's working with a narrow margin for error; and for everyone else, who notices you because you're not just a stationary blob in the shoulder. Time and again, this theory proves itself. I've been sideswiped by a Nissan, eaten by a pothole (or two) and knocked over by a motorcycle, to name a few, all while JRA, but never (in the last decade, at least) have I had a mishap while riding like I meant it, which is not insignificant given that I mean it at least 75% of the time.

Today was no exception...

I'm on my way to the MFA, thinking about some nice art I'm gonna see, rolling down the main drag through an intersection where I had a green light, maybe doin' 15mph, which is decidedly JRA on this particular road (slightly downhill), when, with absolutely no warning, some J-walker comes out from behind a car less than six feet in front of me without so much as a glance in the direction of traffic.

To be honest, this is a moment I've been waiting for for a long time. Not because I want to clean out a pedestrian (believe me hurting someone for whatever the reason doesn't give one a warm fuzzy feeling), but because I've always been curious about how I would react.

The scenario has run over in my head 1000 times: Drop the bars, square shoulders, head-up, don't forget to wrap. Basically it's a football tackle: transfer maximum momentum without injury and make sure everything stops right where it is. I can now definitively say it works like a charm, unless you're my fork. You'd be amazed how much frame repair one can do with a signpost...

Of course, the usual me would have been in the middle of the road going 50% faster and would have been 15 feet to her left when she stepped out. So much for JRA--or maybe so much for contemplating art? At least nobody got hurt.

Ride it like you mean it.


Anonymous said...

Oh dear. Glad nobody got hurt.

"You'd be amazed how much frame repair one can do with a signpost" Legend!


Colin R said...

Considering that I wrote an entire section about how pedestrians step into the bike lane without looking for traffic, and that you can't go faster than your visibility allows, I'm not sure this post is actually "contrary to [Colin's] opinions."

Still though, I'll agree that hauling ass in the car lane is much safer. But you can't always do that.