Friday, March 26, 2010

Stupid People on Bicycles

I almost titled this entry "Cyclists" or "Bikers" but it's not that I hate all people on bicycles; I just hate the stupid ones. How do I know they are stupid? Here are just a few of the reasons:
  1. It's dusk or already dark and they have no lights on their bikes (which is a law).
  2. They are not wearing helmets
  3. They are wearing their iPods
  4. They are riding against traffic (against the law)
  5. They are running through lights and almost mowing down pedestrians (2 more broken laws)
If you are riding a bike, it is your responsibility to understand the laws that pertain to you, as well as some basic safety information to keep yourself from getting run over. I bought a bike a year and a half ago and before I got out on the roads I did a little research about the rules of riding a bike. For example, did you know that when riding a bike, you are permitted to ride on the sidewalk in a residential area but not in a business area? There are many other easily-followable laws that I see people people f* up on a daily basis. As a service to the public, I will review some commonly ignored laws and provide a translation of that they mean:
  • You must obey all traffic laws and regulations of the Commonwealth. Translation: You are a vehicle and must stop at stop signs and red traffic lights. Don't just go flying through a red light because you're a on a bike and cars are scared to hit you. It's annoying and stupid and dangerous for everyone. Trust me, if you do get hit by a car, those skinny emo hipster jeans you are wearing will not offer much protection.
  • You must use hand signals to let people know you plan stop or turn. Translation: You have to tell people where you are headed or when you are about to stop. I know drivers in Mass don't often use their blinkers, and bikers complain about getting cut off by turning cars, but telling the vehicles around you will give them more notice about your own intentions. Hand signals are not exactly rocket science. USE THEM PEOPLE. Not using them is annoying and stupid and dangerous.
  • You must give pedestrians the right of way. Translation: When the little white walk man pops up, it is not your turn to go. Again, on a bike, you are a vehicle. Not a pedestrian, and definitely not some weird special combination of vehicle and pedestrian. So don't ride across an intersection trying to plow down as many pedestrians as you can. It's annoying and stupid and dangerous.
  • You must have your headlight and taillight on if you are riding anytime from 1/2 hour after sunset until 1/2 hour before sunrise. Translation: When it is dark, put on lights so that people can see you. Not like a dinky little flashlight, but a bright-ass, visible from far away light. Blinking lights are even better for visibility. Not using lights is annoying and stupid and dangerous (Are you getting the picture that not following the law is annoying stupid and dangerous?)
As you may have been able to determine from the above entry, cycling safety is very important to me. A large number of cyclists have been killed or seriously injured simply because cyclists and motorists do not follow the appropriate laws and basic safety precautions. For more information about how not to die while cycling look at http://bicyclesafe.com and http://www.massbike.org/resourcesnew/bike-law. Remember, when you are on a bike, it's your responsibility to avoid getting hit by cars, because, while it may legally be the fault of the driver, you will still be the dead one. In Massachusetts we have some of the worst drivers in America (NY is the worst) so it makes sense to me--but obviously not to 99% of people I see on bicycles--to try to do everything to minimize your risk of being run over. As my dad always says, ride like you are invisible (as opposed to riding like you are invincible). So the next time you hop on your bike, just be smart and follow the laws so that I won't have to hate you.

Update 5/11/10: See this great article in the Boston Globe about cyclists needing to earn the respect they are asking for.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"This Car Climbed Mount Washington" Bumper Stickers

Maybe someone can explain the point of these bumper stickers to me. I just don't see what is so impressive and special about your car driving on a paved road, even if that road is up the tallest, baddest mountain in New England.

This website tries to suggest that the claim on the bumper stickers is "not an idle boast" by discussing the extreme weather found year-round at the top of Ol' Mount Washy, but I beg to differ. The people hiking up have to experience the exact same weather without the benefit of a car to keep them warm, dry, and out of the wind. Plus there is the whole climbing up a mountain thing to contend with in addition to the weather. If there was a bumper sticker reading "The driver of this car hiked up Mount Washington" (this one is pretty close) I would be totally okay with the display of public boasting. But there is no way I am impressed that your car drove on a paved road up a mountain. I'd be impressed if your car drove up Everest though, since that sucker ain't paved.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The 800 Cars that Drove Passed me While I was Trying to Cross the Street in the Rain

(Disclaimer: 800 might be a slight over-exaggeration)

I understand that it is 6:15pm and you are tired after a long day of work and you are speeding to try to get home before another stupid Boston driver cuts you off. But I'm tired, too, and I'm waiting in the rain while you listen to music sitting in your warm, dry vehicle. I'm standing halfway into your lane so I know you can see me. Is it too difficult to take 30 seconds to slow down, and let me cross? I promise I'll walk really quickly because I know there is nothing worse than stopping to let someone cross and then they take half an hour to cross the road. I hate that.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Umbrellas

I hate umbrellas. You're probably thinking, "How can anyone hate such a useful accessory?" Well here is a list of all the reasons why I hate umbrellas.
  1. They are not useful. You don't actually stay dry when using an umbrella. Unless there is only a very slight drizzle, your pants will be soaked after more than a few minutes outside with an umbrella. I don't even think this umbrella would keep you dry enough. You would still have to wear a rain coat anyway. So why not just ditch the umbrella and wear your rain coat. This umbrella looks fairly effective, but you'd look ridiculous and it would be a pain in the neck to carry around.
  2. Once you arrive at your destination you have to carry around a dripping stick with fabric on it. This is especially irritating on the T during rush hour because then you are likely to drip on someone else's pants. Some restaurants and other places have little umbrella stands but then someone with a crappier umbrella than you is likely to steal it.
  3. Short women always carry them and hit you in the face. I work in Chinatown and that place is chock full of short umbrella-carrying women. And because umbrellas aren't actually good at keeping you dry, you have to carry them almost sitting on top of your head, which obstructs your vision, leading to you walking into other short women like myself. I always get nervous I'll loose a eye.
  4. They totally suck in the wind, and when it's raining that is most of the time. When it is windy, not only will your umbrella not keep you dry, but it will also become inverted and become less than useful. Just today on my way to school I saw a hotel bellman struggling with an inverted umbrella and just as he was trying to right it again his little bellman hat blew off and started charging down the sidewalk. Had he not been struggling with the crappy umbrella, he would have still had on his hat and not had to run down the street after it.
  5. Many people lack proper umbrella etiquette, especially people with giant golf umbrellas. Two people will be walking down the street in opposite directions, both with umbrellas, and the oversized-umbrella person will edge the smaller umbrella carrier off the sidewalk and into a giant puddle. I really and truly saw this happen once and the girl with the enormous umbrella even gave smaller-umbrella lady a dirty look, as if it was her fault the two umbrellas brushed against each other on the crowded sidewalk. I was like, "Seriously?!?!" This whole thing could have been avoided if they were just wearing decent rain coats with hoods. My hood has never knocked anyone off the sidewalk.
So in conclusion, the next time it rains, throw away your umbrella, which is probably broken anyway from being flipped inside-out by the wind a million times, and get yourself to REI for something that will actually keep you dry: a rain jacket.

I should clarify though, as I do not hate all umbrellas, just rain umbrellas. I happen to think beach umbrellas are quite nice. They provide a colorful way to get some protection from the sun and also a great way to identify your spot to any friends that you might be meeting there.

Monday, March 8, 2010

T Drivers Who Close the Doors on Your Arm

This morning I jogged to catch the train and right as I got to the door the T driver closed it. So I jogged over to the other car, whose driver promptly closed the door on my arm. JERKS!