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Attn: Boston Pedestrians, Re: Bicycles

This thing pictured above is a bicycle. You're going to see more and more of them in the coming weeks and months. Quick word of advice: if you see one hurtling towards you, you may want to get out of its way.

Before I even start speaking, I know what you're thinking: "great, here comes some other entitled bike-riding asshole who's telling everyone else to be safe while he's tearing ass in and out of traffic and running red lights!" Understand: I agree, to an extent, that a lot of cycle advocates preach a lot more than they practice. At times it seems like when a cyclist discusses "sharing the road" what he or she really means is "everyone get the fuck out of my way and let me do what I want." I absolutely recognize this. We can go back and forth all day detailing the various ways in which people on all three sides of this debate - motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians - get on everyone else's nerves, but that wouldn't be too productive.

Really, I just want to address one very specific issue, one common courtesy that seems to be getting ignored on a consistent basis by pedestrians. I'll paint a mental picture for you: say you're waiting to cross a street, only there's too much traffic for you to get all the way there yet. So you step off the curb and stand in the street - not on the sidewalk, but in that space between the curb and the traffic lane while you wait for cars to pass so you can safely walk across the street. You probably do this sort of thing all the time - I know I certainly used to. But what most people don't realize is that that space is the bike lane, even if the street doesn't have the stripes that indicate a dedicated bike lane. That's the only space specifically reserved for bicycles, and when you stop there, you're making yourself into an obstacle. Cyclists might not see you stand there - especially at dusk - or it may be too late for them to stop. Even if they do see you, though, those same cars that you're waiting for are also things people on bikes would like to avoid.

We really don't see much of an excuse for this. Put it a different way: you wouldn't stop and stand in the middle of a lane of traffic when there are cars coming, would you? Again, you can bring up the way many cyclists run red lights, don't yield at crosswalks, and other such infractions, and I'll agree with you. But that doesn't give you license to flout both common sense and common decency, putting others and yourselves at risk in the process. Maybe a collision with a bike won't necessarily kill you like a car would, but it'll still mess you up pretty good. So please, stay on the curb until you're absolutely sure.

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