Monday, May 13, 2013
Commuting in the city
I talked with a fellow parent at pre-school drop off this morning as I took my bike off my roof rack - I have to get two boys to school before I can ride, or drive, to work. She is European, I think, and mentioned that she lived for a time in Finland. She said she was afraid of cyclists in the US because cyclists are, in her mind, literally all over the road and were more apt to do unexpected things than not. She also said that in Finland there were cycle tracks (although she didn't call them that, I inferred this from her description) and all cyclists used the tracks and followed the rules. To some extent, I see what she means. There are a lot of cyclists who believe that rules are for cars and that bicyclists can disregard them, though Massachusetts bicycle law says something else about the matter. But scofflaws aside, I think that most cyclists do behave in ways that you might expect if you read the law. I was reminded about this morning as I stopped at the Somerville bike to work coffee stop at Star Market on Beacon. There I met one of the Somerville bicycle committee members who I met last year outside of the Diesel Cafe in Davis Square. I met him because he was riding a bakfiets (spell check please), or a bike with box, and if you are curious about bikes you have to be curious about these bikes. The box can be used for haul groceries, or in his case, his child - at least on the day I saw him. I imagine he does carry groceries in box as well. I watched him ride off in traffic and noticed then how smoothly he rode. I've seen him on the road, usually from my car, many times since and I'm always impressed how smoothly and predictably he rides. I can say that about a lot of other riders I see. Yes, there are glaring exceptions and I've written about some of them here but I would never see a rider and assume they were going to do something dumb. I would give them some room, however.