In other words, I've started thanking them for not riding on the sidewalk.
You may have heard Portland's a big bike town. (Sometimes literally big: some people ride bikes that are several feet high. I once dreamed about someone riding a bike that was nearly two stories tall, and that's really not that much of an exaggeration.) Lots of people get around by pedal. I should again; I haven't had a bike since college a hundred miles south of here in Eugene. But. I'm worried about car traffic, meaning drivers not doing what they're supposed to do and hitting people (both on foot and on bike), and I'm worried about bicyclists not doing what they're supposed to do.
Scene: A few days ago, a day off from work, and I'm walking on a sidewalk. As is my habit, I look behind me and then ahead of me, scanning for other people, walking, biking, or driving. Behind me I see a bicyclist approaching on the sidewalk. I look ahead again, as I usually do, and see another bicyclist also heading towards me. I have plenty of time to decide We all keep at this pace, we'll be in the same spot at the same time. I stop. So do they. Stand-off. We look at each other, yards apart but (I hope) all of us realizing that we could have gotten closer than any of us would've liked. Both riders change their pace, so they pass me at separate times (one on the road finally, one still on the sidewalk). And I have enough time and nearness to say, twice, to both of them as they pass, "Wouldn't happen if you weren't on the sidewalk." Neither rider says anything to me in response. I didn't expect them to.
Scene: Me, in college, mid-1990s. I finally realize that I either walk, bike, or drive while at school -- and when I do one of those, I get annoyed with a lot of people doing the other two. Walker getting annoyed at bicyclists and drivers not paying attention; driver getting annoyed at walkers and bicyclists not paying attention; bicyclist getting annoyed at walkers and drivers not paying attention. I become more aware of that and how the feelings are colored by circumstance. Good perspective gain. I try to be better at doing all of them.
Scene: This, already written about in this here journal. Really my first run-in with a truly self-righteous bicyclist. Who was wrong about where he was supposed to be, uncooperative, a jerk, and did I mention wrong?
Scene: A couple of weeks ago, in front of the Multnomah County Central Library, downtown Portland. A guy on a bike rides under the construction overhang protecting people on the sidewalk from the building repair work above. Yes, riding down a part of the sidewalk narrowed by construction, and didn't think that the close quarters meant that maybe, y'know, just MAYBE, he could've been considerate and walked his bike through. I get vocal: a sound of annoyed dismay. SERIOUSLY?
Thing is, I know it's hard out there
OK, here's a vow: once I'm bicycling again, if I even have to be on a sidewalk, I'll walk the freaking bike. More people need to do this well, and I don't want to do it badly. I also don't want my annoyance to turn into the kind of rage that leads to me kicking over any bicyclist who rides past me on the sidewalk.
But trust me, I have thought that. Me and bad ideas, we can be like this.
OK! Let's be careful out there.