I Think I May Have Just Accidentally* Founded a Neighborhood Bike Gang

(* on purpose) I posted this on Next Door tonight in response to yet another barrage of attacks on bike lanes on a street called Loyola Lane in Austin, Texas. I couldn’t resist sharing it verbatim with my blog readers. My previous two posts are here and here. I hope you like them all. If you’re in Austin, Texas and wanna join the gang (we’re nonviolent), let me know. Contact me via the About page.

My entry on Strava for tonight’s ride

I was on a night ride with five (5!) bicyclists total on Berkman and Loyola. Not including half a dozen other people we saw biking.  This won’t be the last gathering or ride, so DM me if you want to join us next time.  By the way, I am only speaking for myself here. It is not directed toward the vast majority of neighbors who drive safely.

But I think the Loyola bike lanes are fantastic! They made me feel much safer sharing the road with cars. Although a bit narrow on east side and a bit wide on the west, I think the engineers and planners had to do to that to preserve plenty of parking. Either everyone was out partying at 9:30 pm on a Wednesday night, or the fears of The Parkapocalypse are greatly exaggerated. (HINT:  It’s the second one.)  I’m not sure why.  Change be like, hard, maybe?

One car was parked partially in the bike lane. Another stopped illegally in the lane, causing us to ride in the car lane (which is still completely legal for bikes, regardless). A third was illegally parked in the lane, facing the wrong way, right at a stop sign.

On Berkman, the lanes were less fill of debris than in the past, but still some was there, causing us to swerve, a few times into the car lane. A few poles and buttons do need fixing. One car was so afraid to pass they waited til they could change to the opposite lane completely. Another didn’t have their lights on when passing us. Most cars had no problem navigating the terribly difficult Circuit of the Berkmans. (That’s sarcasm, it’s not difficult.)

Our bikes were each well-lit up at night, we had helmets, rode legally, and no one died. Much more importantly than our lives or safety, no cars were harmed or inconvenienced – even for a second. (That’s more sarcasm.)  Quite the contrary.  It was a beautiful evening meeting some diverse and very lovely neighbors in real life. Imagine that! 

Source: 2018 notice to stakeholders from Active Transportation Department, City of Austin

There was the mother who transports her children to school and around by bike or walking with a stroller; a husband and wife; weekend warriors; commuters; those who ride for recreation and for exercise or just for plain transportation because they don’t have a car.  We were from numerous walks of life:  A teacher, a programmer, a nurse, a social media maven, and more.  Not all white guys in Spandex, either. Far from it. And even they deserve to ride without fearing for their lives from bad drivers.

There were 10 people total, but half didn’t ride, and others couldn’t make it.  A few don’t bike much or at all but are allies.  None of us fit into one neat category either.  Most have cars and walk, too   We didn’t agree on every single thing, either. Democracy is messy but beautiful!  There are many more of us out there, lurking, wondering if it’s safe to get on their bike, with very real fears of car drivers.  Some drivers do not respect our lives, are drunk, texting or otherwise not paying attention, and some don’t even have insurance or a license.  You know who you are and either don’t care or should stop it.

The point is, we are people:  pedestrians – those who use canes and walkers – bicyclists – scooter users – skateboarders – wheelchair users – parents – siblings – daughters – sons – and your neighbors.  We will not be silenced or go away because of a few hateful or mean comments, or by a few of you giving a little convenience, getting there a few seconds earlier, or aesthetics more importance than our safety and lives. Haters gonna hate.  Shake it off.

So, may we please end this endless thread now? Or start a new one that’s kinder and gentler? How about those people still with confusion or concerns (most of which is better directed to the City) put down your phones and computers?  How about you come meet some of your neighbors to listen and learn about what it’s like to bike a mile in our shoes?  We’re not perfect, but let s/he who is without sin cast the first stone…

The moral of this story is very simple: Just be nice, civil, and responsible.  Whether you’re in a car or bike or whatever, share the road safely ***As Required By Texas Law***, people. (No one is above it.  Even me and YOU.)  Thanks for reading if you did.

People safely riding well-illuminated bikes in the bike lane at night. Oooohhhhh, so menacing!!!!!

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15 thoughts on “I Think I May Have Just Accidentally* Founded a Neighborhood Bike Gang

  1. To paraphrase Johnny from “The Outsiders”, gangs are tough. And just like that gang in the classic movie, you’s guys are a gang with plenty of heart and soul. Hell, I am always disgusted by those drivers among us that are disrespectful of cyclists. I’ve experienced them first hand- like when I’m in an area that has no bike lane and I slow down when I come upon a cyclist until it’s safe to pass around him. Inevitably, someone will honk at me. I simply wave back to them in lieu of a middle finger, as if to say “I’ll take my sweet time so %$^* off!”. Drivers, meh.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s the thing, it shouldn’t be a thank you when it comes to being responsible. What with texting and road rage too many drivers are overcome with as soon as they get in their cars . . I just think MORE people should be walking or taking the bus. A drivers license is too easy to score.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah, we bike riders reduce traffic and pollutiion. Car drivers seem to forget or ignore everything they supposedly learned on their driver tests.

        How about cameras installed in cars and driver license offices turn them on remotely at in announced times to see if people are still worthy of keeping them? Or just retesting every couple of years? Money for the state.

        Raise the drinking age to 65 and lower the speed limit to 21, I think Gallagher said..

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Those drivers tests should be an annual thing.

        Both! I love the idea of being tested via camera. Of course, it will never pass muster as per the argument of intrusion of privacy. So maybe once a year, drivers must install the cam for a week and will be ‘tested’ at unannounced times within that week.

        LOL! Go to any bar and you see people who are in no condition to drive.

        Liked by 1 person

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