Bike-riding Steve Nadis reports a brief discussion with a pedestrian in a crosswalk at River and Putnam.
Can't we all just get along? If the pedestrian was pleasant and courteous, there was no need to yell at her.
Unlike the guy who punched my car near Harvard Sq. because I had to slow down in a crosswalk when a guy in front of me jammed on his brakes.
Disclaimer: I wasn't there. But it sounds like you missed the point of his anger. You were supposed to stop before the crosswalk for a pedestrian crossing. The guy jamming his brakes in front of you is irrelevant to this.
Not that this excuses punching a car. That's dangerous, he could put his fist through glass.
you DID have a red light. I bike River from Somerville everyday and I'm maybe one of three cyclist who follow the, you know, RULES. Save the indignation for yourself.
It's like the other day I was robbing a bank and this guy robbing the bank right next to me says, hey, you know you're robbing a bank. Can you believe that guy?
It's kind of the same, except one thing is a violent crime showing a lack of morals and the other is an infraction of the rules we put in place because we don't all live alone in the middle of a tundra (although it sort of feels like it these days). Personally, as long as a pedestrian or biker slows down and checks to see that there is no one AT ALL coming, what's the harm in running an empty red light? However trying to judge the speed of the on-coming cars and slip in between them is taking a risk that is not fair to the drivers (although as a pedestrian I do it from time to time).
As far as that pedestrian in this particular story, I would assume she was being ironic, you sure it wasn't Alannis Morisette?
Just out of curiosity, would you be in favor of cars, as well, treating red lights as stop signs, as long as "no one AT ALL" is coming? Seems like the system would break down eventually.
When I'm at a stop light that has an unobstructed view of the cross street at two in the morning (so that excludes those lights that go to blinking yellow after midnight or whenever) and there is absolutely no one around, I go through it. For streets where the view is a bit obstructed I don't because I feel that it being two in the morning, there might be some drunk douchebag hauling ass down the street that will t-bone me. But it just seems silly to be sitting there taking orders from a street light when it's not really needed. I guess it's not right, but in the grand scheme of things society will survive.
In the middle of the day I doubt I'd do it though for fear that some little kid will re-enact the back of those Crystal Transport trucks from Wakefield "Remember, behind a rolling ball comes a running child." (I sometimes have nightmares of hitting a kid with my car. If I think of it while driving, I break out in a cold sweat and start driving like my Nanna.)
Cambridge Bike Derangement Syndrome. Endemic amongst Cambridge pedestrians, who are regularly pinata'd in their crosswalks by red-light ignoring, self-righteos, spandex-clad two-wheeled morons.
Endemic amongst Cambridge pedestrians, who are regularly pinata'd in their crosswalks by red-light ignoring, self-righteos, spandex-clad two-wheeled morons.
Citation required. Go on. Find the number of people struck by cyclists. Good luck- you know why? None of them required hospitalization. Now go find the number of cyclists injured by drivers. Then compare the number of pedestrians vs. cyclists.
Here's some info from NYC: http://www.transalt.org/files/resources/blueprint/chapter17/chapter17b.html
In NYC in the 80's, you were twelve times more likely to be struck by a car than a cyclist, and eight times more likely to be killed by a car than a cyclist.
Wait, just because it's not an injury that requires hospitalization, it's OK for you to inflict it?
Gee, I can't imagine where Cambridge bicyclists get a reputation for being self-involved rude douchebags!
Four months ago, I was riding in the bike lane on Mass Ave. in Cambridge, when a pedestrian stepped out from between two cars into my path.
Me: Three broken ribs, internal bleeding, carted off in an ambulance.
Him: Hurt his shoulder a little. Declined medical attention.
You religiously stopped at every single red light and crosswalk on Mass Ave, right? Hadn't blown through a single one?
I did. I like obeying all the traffic laws on my bike, partly because it keeps me safe, but mostly because I think it annoys the hell out of the drivers whose way I am in.
You can't just write off bad behavior by any road user group because it's more dangerous when someone else does it.
Obviously anecdotal evidence isn't a proper citation, but bike vs. pedestrian incidents do occur. I was struck by a cyclist going the wrong way in a bike lane in Cambridge last summer. I was in a crosswalk, but there was no traffic light. The cyclist stopped, was very apologetic, let me rant a bit about riding the wrong way, not watching where he was going, etc. I really just had the wind knocked out of me, and we both proceeded on our respective ways.
About a year before that, a classmate of mine got knocked to the pavement by a cyclist while crossing Mass Ave at Everett Street (she had the walk signal). The cyclist picked himself up and sped off while the pedestrian lay in the street stunned. Although she didn't file a police report, she ended up getting several stitches later that day.
Obviously, drivers can cause much greater damage with their mode of transit than cyclists or pedestrians, and with that comes added responsibility. Still, we'd all be better of if we could agree that unsafe road use is a problem no matter who is doing it, instead of accusing other groups of being worse than we are.
For the record, I bike commute to work and school about 50% of my trips in spring, summer, and fall. My other trips are split between the T and my car, depending on the day's situation.
I think in Cambridge(since I live here now too!), as long as there is no traffic, pedestrians are allowed to cross the streets, even when it's a red. However, bikes are officially considered motor vehicles in Cambridge(and in most of MA I believe). This allows the multiple traffic bike-car accidents to be lumped into motor vehicle accident reports for the city police. This also means, esp. in the official parking/driving brochures that the city gives residents every time we renew our parking stickers, that the bikers are EXPECTED to obey the traffic laws.
You had a red light. She had every right to call you out on that. If you had hit her, that would have been counted against you as a motor vehicle accident.
As you prefaced your statement with "I think" it seems that you have not read the law. Pedestrians need to obey crosswalk signals--which are in operation at that intersection. It is just that people in Cambridge (and Boston) choose not to if it is not convenient to them--just like cyclists. In addition, bikes are not considered motor vehicles in Massachusetts--when is the last time you have seen cars ride on sidewalks outside business districts (bikes are allowed to do this by General Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Chapter 85, Section 11b). But in this case the cyclist is in the wrong as he did not obey the traffic signal which he is required to do.
In this case, both people were wrong--hence the apt title of the post (Adam is great one for titles--kudos).
"In addition, bikes are not considered motor vehicles in Massachusetts"
They ARE considered "vehicles", and are entitled to use all roads except where specifically prohibited, and required to obey all the rules of the road.
You can call a bicycle a "vehicle" if you want, but it's not a motor vehicle.
Here's the key definition of a motor vehicle. The full definition is at http://www.malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleXIV/Chapter90/Section1.
"'Motor vehicles', all vehicles constructed and designed for propulsion by power other than muscular power..."
There are two separate definitions in the MGL (dunno about Cambridge by-laws). One is for a vehicle, of which a bike is one. One is for motor vehicles, of which a bike is not.
For example, some of the "rules of the road" are being properly licensed, getting annual inspections, and maintaining insurance. These don't apply to bikes. However, red lights do.
The city's ordiances for bicyclists:
Sec. 12.1 TRAFFIC LAWS APPLY TO PERSONS RIDING BICYCLES
Every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a motor vehicle by the laws of this state declaring rules of the road applicable to motor vehicles or by the traffic regulations of this city applicable to the driver of a motor vehicle, except as to special regulations in this article and except as to those provision of laws and regulations which by their nature can have no application.
Sec. 12.2 OBEDIENCE TO TRAFFIC CONTROL DEVICES
(a) Any person operating a bicycle shall obey the instructions of official traffic control signals, signs and other control devices applicable to vehicles, unless otherwise directed by a police officer.
(b) Whenever authorized signs are erected indicating that no right or left or U-turn is permitted, no person operating a bicycle shall disobey the direction of any such sign, except where such person dismounts from the bicycle to make any such turn, in which event such person shall then obey the regulations applicable to pedestrians.
I grant you that I was incorrect about the pedestrian jay-walking. I had to look it up in the Cambridge bylaws too, so I stand corrected on that. Bicycles may not be considered motor-vehicles in the state of MA, but my point was how in many cities IN MA, bicyclists are given the duties and responsibilities of drivers of motor vehicles, thus my implication that bikes are motor vehicles.
If sec. 12.1 is indeed as written, I'm confused as to why cyclists in Cambridge think the above-mentioned ordinance doesn't apply to them. Why is it still an issue? Anyone?
Page 24 and 25 speak about pedestrian and bikers. That's why I stood corrected about the pedestrian herself jay-walking. His reaction was not warranted as motor vehicles(or at the very least, operators of motor vehicles) are usually charged more if they violate the traffic laws.
The state law is that if there is a crossing light and it's red, you can't walk, no matter if the intersection is clear or not.
It's misconceptions such as this that creates the crazy jaywalking attitudes around here.
No, the awful timing of the pedestrian signals is what creates the crazy jaywalking in Boston.
I know plenty of intersections that you would have to wait ten minutes to get a Walk signal, and that's assuming the request button works, which it often doesn't!
From a practical perspective, jay-walking is the only way to walk somewhere in a reasonable amount of time. As a result, nobody in the population respects or cares about Walk signals. And the city doesn't bother to improve the signals because they know nobody cares.
"I know plenty of intersections that you would have to wait ten minutes to get a Walk signal,"
You might think you know plenty, but you're wrong. The longest red light in the United States is on a state highway in Delaware. It's 4 minutes.
The longest lights around here have a total cycle time of about 2 minutes.
No, but way too few lights in Boston allow concurrent walk phases with the green and way too many (especially in high pedestrian traffic areas), require push-button activation. As a practical matter, you "learn" as a pedestrian to ignore the walk lights, because they appear far too infrequently and aren't providing you with useful information (e.g., giving you the "Don't Walk" light when it's safe to cross).
Boston is the only city that I've been in that has this problem. NY, LA, DC, and Chicago all allow you to cross with the parallel traffic.
When you are given a "Don't walk" light in situations where it is perfectly safe to cross (e.g., intersection of two one-ways), pedestrians learn very quickly to ignore the lights, because they aren't providing useful information. This lead to more jaywalking, because the system itself is broken. That doesn't make it legal, but I think it makes it at least understandable. Expecting pedestrians. to push a button every block and then wait an entire light cycle for the walk light every single block is not realistic.
I do understand the need for push-button activation on lights when crossing fast-moving streets (e.g., Mem Drive). But there really shouldn't be any of these situations in downtown Boston or the more urban parts of Cambridge, where pedestrians often outnumber cars.
Boston historically has had button activated or "scramble" cycle walk signals, which I agree is not a good thing for such a pedestrian-heavy city.
I believe that the new Boston stance, as part of their "Complete Streets policy" is to allow concurrent walks, and they're in the process of changing signals to that effect. (they recently changed the one at Water and Congress that I cross every day) I think it's low priority, and they're changing them as they do normal maintenance, but if you have a particular intersection that's a problem, it's worth dropping a line to DPW.
In downtown areas, I personally am in favor of shared spaces, with minimal traffic signals, with strict liability to make sure that everyone watches out for everyone else, but I realize that that's unlike to happen anytime soon.
Yes, the "cycle" times for cars are under 4 minutes, but not for pedestrians.
Go wait at Linden and Brighton, or Harvard and Brighton*. I can go weeks without seeing a Walk signal flash up at those intersections and I walk by there nearly every day. The buttons don't work. Agganis and Comm is really bad too, and confusing due to the unusual arrangement of roads. Babcock and Comm doesn't even have a pedestrian signal, next to a school, even. The BU Bridge intersection is terrible for pedestrians (and cars, and trolleys), which is a really strange decision by the city due to the massive student traffic. It will probably take a fatal accident to get them to fix that, sadly. Cambridge St in Brighton is pretty bad, particularly by the river. I was walking home two weeks ago through the snow on what I thought was the sidewalk and some driver yelled at me out his window "what the hell are you doing?"
In the Back Bay the walk signals tend to work, but that's where I've been most closely swiped. Typically crossing Mass @ Comm the cars shoot out and make right turns on top of pedestrians. I was hit by a car (slowly, thankfully) turning right (no signal), on Newbury St. A taxi going through a red clipped me on Columbus and Berkeley (but better me than the baby carriage next to me). Huntington and W. Newton doesn't give you enough time to cross without running, and there's no safe crossing again until you reach Copley Sq. I'm not often down there, but leaving South Station on Jan 1 this year, a few others and I got cold and tired waiting for the Walk signal on Atlantic Ave and finally we just went.
*May have been fixed recently, since I started seeing Walk signals again the past week or two, finally, after several months.
If the *total* cycle time is 2 minutes or less, there wouldn't be a 10-minute wait for any particular phase, including the walk phase.
It's certainly possible that an intersection has a broken button. But that would result in a light that never gave a walk, not a light that made pedestrians wait 10 minutes for a walk.
Where exactly is there an intersection where you push the button, stand around for 10 minutes, and then get a walk phase?
This is why people like me think that a lot of bicyclists are arrogant jerks. This guy admits that she politely tells him that he's got a read light and he, by his admission, screams at her. It's the feeling of entitlement. I wonder if Steve would have felt that red light running deserves the same blase atttitude if it were a car which was doing it.
She was crossing against the red too, which is why he was upset at her chiding him for breaking the law. Do you think "a lot of pedestrians are arrogant jerks?" I think there are a lot of arrogant jerks in all modes of transportation unfortunately, and I'm not sure that bikers should be singled out.
I agree that neither of them should have been running the light, and I do not run lights on my bicycle except in the rare case of a car actuated signal, and no cars to trip it.
I think it's disingenuous however to suggest that running a light in a two thousand pound vehicle is somehow equivalent to running it on a 25 pound vehicle.
In this situation, the cyclist should have yielded to the pedestrian and apologized or at least nodded in a conciliatory gesture. Plenty of pedestrians have had to leap out of the way of cyclists illegally blazing through intersections at red lights. We're sick of it. If you've lived in the greater Boston area long enough, you know what I'm talking about. For a cyclist to act like a self-entitled d-bag after running a red light and not yielding to a person on foot is just the icing on the cake... this isn't mommy's basement and the world doesn't owe you a f'ing gold star just because you ride a bicycle. omg wtf! hipster, you have to follow the rules too! If you can't handle it, then buy a car and you'll feel right at home. Till then, grow up.
I do hope you feel better after your rant, but I believe you're missing the point.
In this situation the biker and the pedestrian were going the same way in parallel tracks BOTH running the red light. There was no question of yielding to anyone, except of course cars or pedestrians or bikers who actually HAD the light, and were going the other way.
I agree with you that bikers need to yield to pedestrians in all cases, but there's no evidence in this story that that did not happen.
Yes, you're right. But Steve in this case evinced what seems to be an all too common attitude among urban bikers that their presence on a bike takes precedence over anyone else doing anything else. Pedestrians need to leap out of the way, cars need to get off the street, etc etc. Meanwhile the bicyclist is bound by no laws. Running red lights? Fine. Going the wrong way down the street? Fine. Biking at full speed down a sidewalk? Fine.
If a car cuts you off, it's because the driver is a jerk. If a bike cuts you off, it's because all cyclists are jerks.
I did miss that. I thought she was crossing without a walk signal in front of him. Still there's the arrogant sense of entitlement on his part that he's not only entitled to break the law but how dare anyone say anything to him. By his own admission she's polite to him and he screams at her.
As for arrogant jerks there's certainly a lot of them around, but there's behaviors that seem to reinforce it and/or populations which seem to attract it. Urban bicycling seems to be one of those where there seems to be an unusual number of people who feel that riding a bike entitles them to do whatever the hell they want.
And you're right that it would be disingenuous to say that a bike and a car are the same. But no one is doing that. Indeed, my gripe with bicyclists is based on precisely the opposite. A bike is NOT the same as a car. But neither is it the same as a pedestrian and the big problem, from my POV, is that too many urban cyclists want to behave like they're pedestrians when they're not. Pedestrian movement is anarchic, famously so. Car movement is rigorously controlled. But bikes, in their speed, their difficulty in quick stopping, and their penchant for straight line movement, all resemble cars more than pedestrians. That's why many states consider bicycles to be motor vehicles for purposes of traffic control laws.
Among some urban cyclists there seems to be a real feeling that the world should conform to their decision to bike. You even see in this thread, people complaining about pedestrians breaking the law but there seems to be no conception at all that bikes should be bound by any rules.