10.22.2007

I see the sign... I know the law...

I see the sign...
I know the law...
my actions respond to a higher thought process
my actions are dictated by common sense and common courtesy
while my guess is... your thoughts/actions are dictated by selfishness

today after work I had to drop something off at my brother's house
so rather than muscle my way up Wisconsin Avenue with aggressive, anxious, and obnoxious rush hour traffic I opted to put the tires on dirt
the bike of the day was the rigid karate monkey single
the perfect bike for the task in front of me

I rode down M Street through Georgetown
the cars before Key Bridge were practically parked
while the cars after Key Bridge sped as if they were on the Auto Bon
I was pleased when my tires got off pavement and started rolling on dirt

I saw the sign
I know the law
but... my actions are dictated my a higher process
my actions are dictated by common sense and common courtesy

so I pedal my way through the urban woods at a moderate pace
always looking ahead aware of any foot traffic approaching

I slow and pause for any and all in the woods
the leashless dog gets my respect as well as my concern
the runner gets the right of way
the hiker and the walker... they get passed with respect as well

it is a beautiful day in the woods
Indian Summer in all of its glory
the leaves are starting to turn
the ground benieth my tires were covered with a blanket of multi-colored leaves
multiple oranges, multiple reds, multiple yellows

I greet each person as I approach
eye contact is made and respect is given
an older silver haired gentleman gives a wave of the finger and reminds me of the law
I give him no arguement
instead I give him a smile and wish him a nice day
he does not hear me... he has his headphones on
but honestly... he would not hear me with his headphones off
in my years and years of such interaction
I have rarely had a person willing to see any other perspective than theirs

the college kids from Georgetown or AU with their chant of "no bikes... no bikes"
the dog walker with their leashless dog and their inability to see their infraction while clearly seeing mine
no... none of these people care to discuss the issue
they just want to tell me what I am doing wrong

but I know what I am doing wrong
I have accepted things as they are
my choices are to ride on the city streets and risk my life
or to dip into the woods for a little sanctuary
it does not happen everyday
it does not happen often
but it does happen
occassionally this sanctuary is broken up by a little confrontation

when will I learn
these little encounters never go well
the preachers only wants to preach
they never want to listen and grow
and yes
I am enlightened

to all those with your dogs off leash
I am a dog owner... I would never wish to cause your dog harm
I slow and pass in anticipation of your dog's action
it is also the law that the dog must be on leash
a lead longer than six feet does not meet the requirements of the law

to those with small children
I too am a parent
I know that children are just as likely to jump out in front of me as the dog
so I slow even more for them
as I know I can not predict the unpredictable

and to the runners and the hikers
I am a runner and a hiker
and I know what it is to be buzzed by the obnoxious cyclist
I have no intention of startling you
I will respect your space and give you room and give you warning as I approach

most people are friendly
most people do not care about the passing cyclist
most people share a pleasant hello knowing that we are sharing in a beautiful space on a beautiful day

but just as the silver haired man waved his finger
I pass a man with two leashless dogs
he makes a face
I have seen that face... I know what that face means
I smile at him and wish him good day and keep along my way
no need to discuss things
I will not change his face

my trajectory is taken out of the woods as I make a quick stop at my brother's
no time to knock on the door
I just drop the package off on his porch
then I return back to the woods to finish my trek across town

back in the woods for some more time away from the cars

more people are passed
everyone is given their right to their own space
most people are friendly
a runner gives me that classic "no bikes... no bikes"
I refrain from responding
I have heard their arguements
and well
I have an arguement for them
but I am not here for discussions
discussions that become arguements
arguements that become confrontation
seldom is anything ever learned from these exchanges

the trails are short little sections of woods broken up by city streets
I march up a long set of stairs that I can not even consider riding up
I am gwadzilla... not Hans Rey
at Mass Ave I am reminded of the car chaos
the cars speed as fast as they can with no concern for the speed limit
but it is not the speed limit that I am concerned about
it is the lack of concern for others as they drive
the lack of foresight
the lack of anticipation
and of course.... the lack of common sense and common courtesy

there is a break in traffic
I run across the street before the next set of speeding cars can teach me a lesson for crossing where there is no crosswalk

as I approach the woods a runner approaches
I had seen her the other day
she had looked like she had wanted to discuss my being in the woods on that day
my response is pre-loaded
I am expecting a discussion
she waits till I pass to tell me what she thinks
I turn back and listen to her
she is pretty much too far to hear so I pedal back towards her
she starts in on with a pretty good rant
she goes on and on
once she starts repeating herself I try to give her a rebutal
she has no desire to hear my piece
I am ready to cater my rebutal to her points
point by point I will respond to her
she runs away still spouting off
never wanting a discussion
just wanting to yell
I bet her kids are in my kid's class
I bet I see her again
I refrained from letting myself get ugly
I started to try and refute her points
but in loud voice no point could be made

no... the mountain bike does not cause any more errosion than the runner
pushing around some loose grave or kicking up some dust is not errosion
I am just rolling over the hard packed earth
just as the runner is just stepping on the packed earth
but somewhere she heard this misnomer of the impact of cyclist
these trails are the way they are because of hikers, runners, and dog walkers continueing to use them when they are wet
not because of the dozen or so mountain bikers who pass though from time to time
she goes on
she does not want to hear my counter to the notion errosion
she does not want to hear my ideas on the modification of the law
she does not want to hear my philosophy on common sense and common courtesy
she just wants to stand on her pulpet and state the law

well...
to anyone who cares to tell the cyclist about the law and the sign that says NO BIKES
let me put it to you simple
if you own a car than SHUT THE F_CK UP!
not because of the carbon footprint
but because there is a speed limit
and my riding my bike where it says NO BIKES is pretty much a modification of the law just as going over the speed limit is a modification of the law
the only difference
when I choose to modify the law to meet my selfish needs
I do so while exhibiting common sense and common courtesy
the car drivers... they are reckless and out of control

I know the law...
I do own a car
I do drive a car
but... I behave when I drive
no... I tried going the speed limit
it does not work... it incites road rage
but... I do drive with respect for others
when driving a car my actions are guided by common sense and common courtesy
just as I bike with respect for others
when I live
I try to live with the notion of common sense and common courtesy

just heard the kids come in the house with my wife and the dog
right on time
no time to proof this
I made it home alive... which is always my primary goal when getting on the bike and dealing with the idiots and the assholes of the world

12 comments:

crumbs said...

Nice glimpse into a biker's head - what a shame people favor stone cold rules over good natured courtesy.

I've felt this before - the guilt about doing something "wrong" so I try to make up for it with shy smiles and yeilding - but I couldn't have written it out so eloquently.

gwadzilla said...

again...

we all know the rules

the sign may say no frisbee on the beach

but

what the sign is really saying is do not throw your frisbee on a crowded beach

if there were no one on the beach
would it be so wrong to throw the frisbee back and forth

and well
if there is the right wind
the frisbee thrown at 45 degrees into the wind comes right back to you
it is an art
it is a joy
it can only be done when the wind is righ
the wind is usually right on the beach
often right at the shore

but the sign says
no frisbee on the beach

brian said...

very well put and very familiar. thanks!

Jim said...

It's a very old-school Tory notion that the laws don't matter, but people's habits - common sense, manners, and character - should govern behavior. It boils down to good character.

In the long run, relying on people's good character to restrain their bad behavior and encourage the good, is the right thing to do. In a heavily rules-based, increasingly top-down and completely over-lawyered society, it's also probably incompatible with the existing social order.

I have no problem with you biking on that trail as long as you were safe and didn't injure the trail or anybody else. I need to remember to apply the same standard to others more regularly.

iconoclaSSt said...

"if there were no one on the beach would it be so wrong to throw the frisbee back and forth"

My sentiments exactly when it comes to pedaling through red lights and stop signs. But then I get the "so, based on that reasoning, shouldn't it also be okay for cars to slow and go at reds/stops" from people who can't be made to understand the difference between a high speed, cumbersome, two-ton juggernaut with blind spots and a slow-moving, highly maneuverable, open cockpit, 30 lb bicycle.

Witness the recent ticketing campaign waged against cyclists in Alexandria to the tune of $75 a pop, as discussed on The Wash Cycle. (Almost) unbelievable.

gwadzilla said...

conrol the car chaos

only when it is safe in the crosswalk should a person be ticketed for responsible jaywalking

cars need to make complete stops at stop lines before they ticket a bicycle for viewing a stop sign as a yeild sign

cars modify the speed limit to suit their desire to "flow"
bicycles are doing the same
the ticket should be issued when there is a reckless breaking of the law
high speed in a 25 MPH zone... no ticket for going 26MPH
just as the cyclist rolls through when it is safe to flow through

wolfey said...

Gwadz, what you say is honest, and I am also guilty of ignoring the sign and exercising special caution from time to time. But the truth is that we are only able to break these rules because most people obey them. If everyone broke the rule, the park, road, lane, path, whatever would be unusable for everyone.

SiouxGeonz said...

is good!

iconoclaSSt said...

Wolfey, if everyone broke the rule, there wouldn't be any rule.

Perhaps that's the point.

wolfey said...

Right. And if everyone used common sense we wouldn't need any rules. Don't hold your breath waiting for that.

gwadzilla said...

I am not looking for these trails to be open to any and all bikes

that would be chaos

it would be cool if they opened "some trails" to mountain bikes
or better yet
cut some trails for mountain bikes

there are soccer fields and basketball courts

why are there not facilities for cyclists?

no bmx courses
no velodromes
and no mountain bike trails in the district

iconoclaSSt said...

Not holding my breath for anything...it was your speculative admonishment, not mine.