A Note To Bicycle Riders

Paul Shirley
Nov 15, 2011 · 4 min read

Hey there, Bicycle Guy.

I want you to know something. I totally respect your commitment to the environment, to exercise, and to personal freedom. I think the world would be a better place if more streets had bike lanes. There are times when I think it would be great if the only two ways to get around in any city were public transportation and bicycles.

But we don’t live in this utopia. Not yet, anyhow.

And so, while we wait for the arrival of this transportational nirvana, you’re going to have to obey the motherfucking rules.

For starters, you don’t get to ride on the sidewalk. Maybe no one has ever explained this to you, but sidewalks are for walking. And for strolling, sauntering, perambulating, limping, cartwheeling, hopping, skipping, sprinting and jogging. You can crawl on the sidewalk, if you want. You could use the sidewalk to have a wheelbarrow race featuring the cast and crew of the 1980s serialized drama Falcon Crest, if you really had to.

Do you know what you’re not allowed to do on the sidewalk? Ride a fucking bicycle. So don’t look at me like my forehead is made out of juniper berries when I give you the look that says I’m surprised to see you come up behind me on a piece of concrete that’s three feet wide and intended for people who are putting their Keds down one in front of the other.

You’re supposed to be on the street, dodging cars and fearing for your life. That’s the deal.

What’s that you say? You’re not one of those people? You always ride your Cannondale on the road, where it belongs? Good for you. But wait a minute. I’m not done with you yet.

You know those rectangular boxes that hang over intersections? Yeah, the ones with the colored lights. Those are called stoplights. Do you know what your first instinct should be when you come upon one of them and the light is red? That’s right: to come to a fucking stop.

Don’t hook a right onto the sidewalk and use the crosswalk. Don’t ride in tiny circles in the intersection like a suicidal circus bear. Don’t decide that, oh hey, maybe now’s the time for a Razzmatazz from Jamba Juice and make the left-turn lane your own personal playground.

Just stop. Stay still. We know you’re in a hurry. We know you have a screenplay to write/message to deliver/kale smoothie to drink. We all have shit to do — that’s why we’re in these fucking cars. You know, the big metal things that go fast?

Yeah, us and our goddamned cars. I hate them just as much as you do — they’re the death of human interaction, of the atmosphere, of bicycle riders like you. I want them all gone. I want everyone to see you and think, Maybe biking is the way to go. But people are not going to think that if you keep behaving the way you do.

You have a responsibility, Bicycle Guy. It’s your job to show us that you’re above sitting in traffic like any other lemming. That you’re taking a noble step back. That you’re saying, “Hey, what’s the rush? I’m on a bike.”

When you run a stoplight, when you barrel past us on the sidewalk, when you act annoyed with us even though you’re in the wrong, well, then you do your entire peer group a disservice. You’re like a vegan drinking a Coke in a McDonald’s. You can’t make a principled stand on one thing and then undermine it completely by doing another. That’s a good way to make people hate you.

I don’t want to hate you, Bicycle Guy. I want to respect you. I want there to be more of you. Hell, I want to be you.

You want that to happen, don’t you? You want to spread the bike-riding gospel, right? You want this thing to catch on, no?

Why wouldn’t you? If the streets had more bikes, you’d be less worried about some asshole running into you and splattering your gall bladder into a pothole on Venice Boulevard. (Which, by the way, is exactly what I want to happen to you when you come screaming up behind me on the sidewalk.)

I’m willing to help you get there, Bicycle Guy. And all you have to do — all you have to do to cause me to stop hoping for the maiming and/or dismemberment that is now my fervent desire for you — all you have to do is obey the rules.

Oh, and I’m not your dad but, do you really think the headphones are a good idea?

Originally published at www.flipcollective.com on November 15, 2011.

Flip Collective

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