Tuesday, April 14, 2009
I encountered another wrong way cyclist (also known as Salmon by Bike Snob NYC) in the bike lane of Santa Monica's Broadway, this time on my way home from a training ride. I exclaimed loud enough to make sure he heard me, "WRONG WAY", to which he replied as we crossed paths, "okay". Maybe he didn't notice the arrows on the ground, or any of the other cyclists going the correct way. I take this issue pretty seriously, because I envision one of these guys running into some inexperienced but correctly riding person and them both getting laid down in the street with potential for further injury from oncoming traffic. Collisions head on with a car are also a distinct possibility, even in the perceived safety of a bike lane, and are far more likely (when cyclists ride the wrong way) and are also more likely to be deadly than being hit from behind.
As I pondered the ways of the wrong way cyclist, and what skewed sense of physics, distorted reality, and lack of concern for others floats inside their heads it occurred to me every wrong way cyclists I've seen, on any street, has been a man. Now men do make more of the cycling public than women, a topic unto it self which I may delve into later, but I don't think the gender split is enough to account for this alone. Is it that men are less likely to feel both concern for others and self preservation than women? Maybe it is just a statistical anomaly that I have witnessed 100% of wrong way riders being male, even though women tend to make up at least 20% of the cycling population. Has anyone else who has encountered or witnessed wrong way cyclists seen any who were female? I wonder..
Another observation made a few weeks ago was a different sort of breed of wrong way in the bike lane cyclist. Unlike most salmon I have seen who barrel down the bike lane playing chicken with anyone who happens to be riding correctly, and getting upset at anyone with the audacity to point out their incorrect behavior, this gentlemen seemed to acknowledge what he was doing was wrong and could cause conflict with other riders. When he saw me approaching he pulled to the side in between parked cars and waited for me to pass, before proceeding to go back to wrong way riding. Riding salmon is not justifiable in this case either, and could still result in a bike on bike collision if a cyclist made a turn onto the bike lane catching both riders at surprise. Traffic engineers sometimes design stupid things, but there are good reasons bike lanes have arrows.