Defensive riding

In my categorization of More Vulnerable Users, tractor trailers are more dangerous than delivery trucks, which are more dangerous than pickups and SUVs, which are more dangerous than cars, which in turn are more dangerous than motorcycles, which are more dangerous than bicycles, which are more dangerous than people on foot.

Walking in San Francisco

The higher you are on this totem pole of danger, the more care you should take in operating your conveyance.

Bikes are near the bottom, but we as cyclists are not absolved of responsibility in anticipating random movements from other people, especially in a busy city park. Any cyclist who yells for pedestrians to get out of his way is about equivalent to the road raging maniac honking his horn at cyclists “blocking” his way in traffic. That goes for all of you who brag about blasting your AirZounds at small children and grandmothers or who buzz quickly past walkers to punish them for not walking where you think they should go. Quit it, already.

I think the most succinct statement on this week’s Central Park collision in New York City came from Bike Snob NYC, who wrote in a comment:

Oh Come On,

I meant this specifically in the park, where people are at their most unpredictable. You know, because they’re wandering delighted in a beautiful oasis.

However, when I ride, I also KNOW I’m going to encounter people crossing against the light and I ride accordingly. If I’m reasonably attentive, even if someone steps out in front of me, odds are I’m not going to have too hard a time avoiding them — which is what you see in those images.

I have had ONE collision with a pedestrian many years ago, who ran out from between two parked cars mid-block to hail a cab. Fortunately nobody was hurt. She shouldn’t have done that, but I’m a schmuck if I don’t keep it in mind that this can happen.

By the way, I also keep this in mind when I drive. It’s not really that hard to avoid so-called “jaywalkers” if you’re driving at an APPROPRIATE speed.

–Wildcat Rock Machine

Follow the discussion here if you wish.

One Comment

  1. I like that totem-pole of danger, it’s quite accurate.

    My only crash with a pedestrian was just like that mentioned in the comment, a homeless man randomly jumped out in front of me from between two parked cars. I had time to yell and brake hard enough to launch myself forward off my bike into a cartwheel. Unfortunately I still hit him, fortunately for us both I was not in a car, becuase then it would be far less likely he would have walked away. Cars are 2,000+ pound death machines that speed down roads at speeds over 40mph sometimes. That is over 80,000 pounds of force, enough to shatter bones and stone walls. I wish more drivers understood that.

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