The long-unofficial extension to the LA River Bikeway south of Fletcher Avenue hasn’t been opened officially for even a day and already that old pedestrian call for cyclists to respect pedestrians has been brought up by the Corralitas Red Car Property blog:
Cyclists complain about cars whizzing past them too closely at high speeds on City streets. Show pedestrians the same respect you want from car drivers.
I have no argument with the issue of consideration, and I’m sorry for the negative encounters experienced. But I do get tired of the debate always being compartmentalized and into an us-versus-them box. Be it motorists, cyclists or pedestrians there always seems to be a holier-than-thou attitude in brusquely demanding that other groups behave. Each segment will often rail without deigning to acknowledge the fact that we all manage to not get along. Inconsideration and entitlement is not solely owned by one segment.
Just as the Red Car Property blogger tells us that “every time” she’s walked the river, she’s been “surprised by bikes coming from behind at very high speeds,” there are motorists who will insist that every cyclist rides rudely and unsafely, and there are cyclists adamant that all pedestrians walk around like they own everything within a moveable 10-foot radius.
With such generalizations it’s a wonder anyone gets anywhere unscathed or at least unfrustrated.
I for one practice safe and considerate cycling wherever I am, be it on a mountain trail, off-street bikeway or on a bike-unfriendly boulevard. On any waterway path, I dont’ ride like a 6’2″ 220-pound bat outta hell unless the asphalt ahead is free and clear, and when approaching anyone from behind it’s always at a respectful speed and with my bell ringing to alert them of my arrival. Passing is done as widely around them as I can.
On occasion, I am forced to compromise my access and enjoyment by navigating past pedestrians who walk down the centerline with or without a dog untethered or on some incredibly long extend-o-leash. Adding to the risk is the fact that their hearing is impaired from those individuals wearing headphones or talking on cellphones, preventing them from being alerted by my bell or my voice.
But did you notice what I said there? I used “on occasion,”Â and “individuals,” meaning exactly that. It would be easy to self-righteously exaggerate, but disingenuous. The fact is the vast majority of peds I pass are passed uneventfully. We cooperate in not being an impediment to the other’s enjoyment.
Red Car’s core argument is sound: share and be safe. But it applies to everyone all the time, and that’s no exaggeration.