Monday, May 23, 2011

Poor poor pitiful me

This story in the Washington Post tells the adventure of a dad taking his son out for riding lessons on a local MUP. Pretty funny. Not the story, the comments. 

So here we have a father taking his son, fresh out of training wheels, out for a ride on an MUP. After 30 minutes he gave up. He asked:

"Was it unreasonable for me to ask that people make room for a dad using one lane of the bike trail to teach his kid how to ride? Should I have more respect for the super-commuters who use (I’m being generous) their ride home to blow off steam from a rough day? I honestly don’t know. My wife says I was brave even to try."

Well, yeah. What a stupid question.  As you can imagine the responses from the bikers were all in agreement that it was a dumb idea. 

Alsatan1 wrote:
"Please don't mix your medium, wobbly (i.e., unpredictable 40 pound son going 5mph with large balanced 180 pound cyclists going 10-20 mph. Your son is the unexpected condition and the collision would have had terrible results for everyone. It wasn't a good idea."

A public MUP where individuals and families run and walk and ride. What kind of a father would throw his kid into this mix?

He continues:
"It's one of the worst because it's one of the most unpredictable. It puts me in a position to make a split second decision with which I have little experience."

Ah, the ol' split second decision. We've all faced it. You're riding along and up ahead are people. Maybe even little people. We know that little people can be even more unpredictable than the big kind. So let's just maintain our pace til we're right on top of them (because you can't whisper "on your left" until you're like right on top of them) and hope like hell we don't have to deal with the split second decision.

"Now quick, the cyclist has to weigh those options and make a decision in 2 seconds."

The cyclist must make a decision in 2 seconds because the cyclist isn't looking down the road. He's checking his "stats" on his $200 Garmin bike computer.  And if the cyclist were to plan for some unforeseen event then he would need to adjust his speed and the cyclist simply will not adjust the speed unless it's absolutely necessary and only then within the last possible 2 seconds. 

Nosmo writes:
"Was it too inconvenient to either walk or toss the childs bike into the back seat of the car and find an empty parking lot at a nearby Church or school? Sheesh... the kid wasn't scared of the fast moving bike riders, he was scared of the knucklehead decision of his father for thinking it was a great solution to put his son in a dangerous situation."

And is there any situation more dangerous than the runners and the walkers and the dogs and mothers pushing a baby carriage? Because it's not the fast moving bike riders. Yes it takes a real knucklehead to go out to an MUP and think those damned mothers with their baby carriages won't be terrorizing all the other MUP users. 

Alsatan1 again:
"Most cyclists pass you with a warning, almost all pass you safely."

Alsatan1 lives in a different world than I do.

"If you expect cyclists to reduce speed to 5 mph for every runner they pass, cyclists will not be able to utilize the trails and will use the roads where they'll demand cars reduce their speed to 12 mph, but then a runner will be on the road at 5mph, the cyclist will to to 5 mph and the cars will need to go 5mph. Ridiculous, right?"

It sure is! I can't recall the last time I read anything so ridiculous. 
I'm curious though. What is the minimum speed a cyclist can pass runners and still be able to utilize the trail? Is it 7mph? 9? 
I could be wrong here but I don't think we expect cars to travel at the same speed as us, just that they use some caution and pass safely and not blast by us with inches to spare, that when there's no opening they actually slow and wait. 

My guess is that not one other user of the trail on that day had a problem with the little one on his bike. I doubt a single runner or stroller had a complaint. I doubt any of them were unable to look at it as anything but a father teaching a kid how to ride a bike. I doubt any of them saw it as some kind of intrusion and a "dangerous" thing to do with a kid. 

The poor poor lonely biker. So misunderstood. All he wants is to get where he's going at the pace he wants to use and for others to get the hell out of the way. Is that so much to ask?