Street smart?

I really, really don’t want to point fingers or even make generalizations, but to be honest, it’s a miracle that I have not been involved in an accident yet.

So far I was convinced that bad drivers are my worst enemies on the street. They don’t use their turn signals, slam on their breaks, can’t make up their minds where they want to go and change directions in the last minute or drive nonchalantly through a red light through an intersection with afternoon rush-hour traffic. I live on a one-way street and I have even witnessed the occasional driver turning right into the one-way street against oncoming traffic. Really, I’ve seen it all. More often than I wish I had.

Even worse than drivers in the other cars though: Bicyclists.
Now, I have to make a distinction here between the ‘serious bicyclist’, who is professionally equipped and dressed in sports gear, helmet and such, and who usually knows the rules, and the “leisure bicyclist’, who rides a cruiser bike which in most cases is not even roadworthy. Those are the worst.

As a reminder: I come from a country where bike training was required in elementary school, where we had to pass a test to be certified as “roadworthy bicyclists” (not that anybody would ever ask you about it, but whatever – although police will stop you if you ride your bike unsafely) and where we learned how to signal correctly, how to read street signs (yes! they also apply to people on bikes!) and which side of the street to ride on.

That does NOT seem to be the case in the US.
People don’t stop for red lights, they ride on the wrong side of the street against the traffic (ha! consider riding on the sidewalk a trifle now!), they don’t give hand signals or any other indication of where they’re going and are generally unpredictable. And don’t even get me started on the non-existing head- and tail-lights (which pairs up nicely, or not!, with almost non-existing street lights, which equals “no chance whatsoever of being able to see a bicyclist at night”).
I also find it quite the challenge to pass a person on a bike without running the risk of hitting him or being hit by him.

Maybe I am a little bit overreacting. Just maybe. After all, I haven’t been involved in an accident. Yet.
But even if you didn’t have the proper bike education in school (which I guess can simply not be assumed everywhere in the world), what about being a little ‘street smart’ here? Just a little.

  1. Yes, you are right. We saw an example of stupidity here tonight and it scared the heck out of all of us in the car. Thank goodness no one was hurt.

  2. Even with the education here in Germany I see a lot of stupid people on bikes each day.
    They just seem to get more crazy from year to year. Don’t know why.
    Especially the kids are very frivolous these days.
    Not all, of course, and I guess it depends very much on the parents.
    I had an accident with a girl on a bike when I was only 18 and only driving my car for about 4 month. She just came driving out of an courtyard without stoping or looking. Lucky her I was only driving 30km/h.

  3. AMEN! :) and stay safe, girl!

  4. Dear god, I soo agree with you. It is crazy how people ride their bikes here. They don’t care if the light is red or not, if there is a stop sign or whatever. The sad thing is, that the police does not care. If they would (like in Germany, when you get a ticket for cycling through red light – you even can get points on your car drivers license!), people would think differently.
    Maybe we should give it time, until then we should be aware of the bikers around us. They are unpredictable.

  5. i guess germany is an exeption how disciplined people drive there. either bike or car compared to any country in the world. i remember how many times i was close having a heartattack taking a taxi in paris *rolleseyes*

  6. in response to your comment: i meet them online mostly, people usually find me, i never actually made the effort and reached out to people. facebook, auswanderer-forum, studivz, myspace… da trifft man ueberall deutsche maedels aus phoenix. wir treffen uns dann, dann trifft man irgendwann deren deutsche freunde, so geht das immer weiter. ich glaub da muss man einfach die persoenlichkeit fuer haben, i just make friends easily. am besten ihr zieht nach phoenix, dann seit ihr versorgt :)

  7. You are soo right. And I can say, I’m afraid to ride my bike on the streets, because of these stupid unpredictable drivers who got their drivers license on Walmart.
    Stay safe!

  8. i totally agree, the traffic and bike riding in la is just eh. so not safe.

  9. oh my gosh i could not agree more!!!!!!!!

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