April 21, 2024

That Really Bunches My Panties . . . by Brendon Marks


A friend rides a bicycle for exercise. Without making any remarks about his level of wimpiness or about his sitting on a pipe and pedaling like heck just to give his butt a ride, I’ll relate the reason for bringing this up.

He was telling me about a runner in his neighborhood who was out every day, knees bandaged, and in obvious pain, sometimes only shuffling along to complete his regimen. He was so impressed by the determination of this runner that he admitted that it was the only time that he doesn’t berate the runner for using the street and creating an obvious impediment to his unrestricted access.

I brought up some valid (in my opinion) reasons for running in the street, but he was not impressed. Although admitting to being something of a curmudgeon, he pointed out that he never cursed at the runners, but would only yell things like, “You should be on the sidewalk.” Obviously if there is no sidewalk, he shouldn’t be there at all.

He is of the opinion that “Wheels should be in the street and feet should be on the sidewalk.” After considering his viewpoint, I find the issue far too complex for such a blanket statement.

Can you imagine a guy on a skateboard, flying along with “wheels in the street”, but slapping his propulsion foot on the sidewalk? And what if he is a “goofy footer,” who uses the wrong foot for the direction he’s traveling, or a baby-jogger in the street with the mom or dad pushing it from long-distance on the sidewalk? Not to mention roller-blades, skates, strollers, motorized and non-motorized scooters, wheelbarrows, tricycles, and Big Wheels. Do you think he’d like to share his bike lane with all that stuff? Does that “Share the Road” bumper sticker on his car really mean what it says or just cars must share with bikes? Or does it mean ‘I get to go where I want to go and you get to go where I want you to’?

He might say that some of those vehicles have no business being in the street, but I ask, “Who gets to make the list?”

To add another dimension, consider the trail that has been a hiking trail for thirty or forty years, maybe even used by Lewis & Clark or Geronimo, but now the hikers have to contend with mountain and dirt bikes, ATV’s, and the occasional BMX enthusiast. Especially when the hiker is on the way up and the mountain bike is coming down, careening headlong down the trail, scattering rocks, vegetation, wildlife, hikers, and pets in every direction.

If we decide who goes where based on who was there first, I’d be willing to bet that there was a footprint on every square inch of this country before the bicycle was invented. However, if space travel ever becomes a practical reality, we can always export all the cyclists to Mars, because wheeled vehicles were definitely there first.

If we delegate space and right of way based on ‘Might makes right’, when a runner is matched up against a Peterbilt the winner is obvious; but when the showdown is between a runner and cyclist let’s see what happens when a tree limb gets jammed in the spokes.

Or we could segregate based on other criteria and establish trails for feet (human or animal). Others for non-motorized wheeled vehicles, and use established streets and roads for motorized. By definition, the non-motorized trail must allow feet for purposes of propulsion, if necessary.

Then cyclists would no longer have to put up with those pesky runners or negotiate piles of road apples, but may have to dodge the occasional tricycle, stroller, or runaway shopping cart. (Those folks who ride bicycles with their dog running alongside are just flat out of luck.)
 Of course, all this is irrelevant if all the runners use treadmills and all the cyclists use stationary bikes, but that isn’t going to happen.

Maybe it’s better if we all just get along, and as the bumper sticker says, “Share the Road.”

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