A Message for Missoula Cyclists: Don’t Be Assholes
I’m on my bike a lot in this town, commuting to work five days a week/12 months of the year, biking my oldest who just started first grade to school, trips downtown to the market on the weekend. I love how accessible Missoula is for non-car transportation. I can even appreciate the Missoulian editorial board reminding its readers of the importance to pay attention this time of year to the increased hustle and bustle of a college town revving up for action.
That said, for every bicyclist I see who bikes responsibly, it seems like I see a half dozen idiots rolling obnoxiously down the sidewalk, or against traffic, or suddenly going from biking with traffic to cutting into a crosswalk. All kinds of stupid shit. I was actually standing with my bike on the sidewalk by the courthouse downtown when some dude on a bike clipped my back tire. He was fine and kept going but it certainly got my attention. When I gave him my WATCH WHAT YOU’RE DOING look he actually engaged in a bit of shit talking like it was somehow my fault.
Biking culture varies, and is tiered by class. There’s the pack of cyclists riding down Mullan without a care of what cars have to do to pass them. Then there’s people who are on bikes because other means are either unaffordable or legally prohibited. Bob Wire put out a tweet emphasizing the latter:
When I see a 60-year-old man riding a BMX bike down the street, first thing that comes to mind is: 5th DUI.
To further emphasize the class issues regarding transportation, I’m going to dredge the depths of comments from this Missoulian article about Missoula’s bus line going zero-fare next year:
thomascash: This is a good solution to the homeless during the hours the buses operate but we still have the night time to solve. How much does it cost to idle a bus all night long?
Miss Muralist 12: I’m starting to wonder who really has life figured out, the working class or the shiftless layabouts I see tubing the river every day. These parasites have truly found a host in Missoula. Want to have kids? No worries, the school will give them three squares a day. Need to get around? No worries, free bus rides brought to you by the working folk.
DaveQ: Awesome. Now the transients and homeless can have an airconditioned mobile home to travel in without spending any drug money. Free stuff will attract all the right people to the social experiment called Missoula. When it’s too hot or too cold, you can chill on the bus. If you need to get to the other side of town to do a little pan handling or pickup something for your head, there will be a free ride for you in Missoula. This is progress indeed. The tax payers are footing the bill and the people who use this free ride won’t be the people that are paying for it.
We have some great organizations that support increasing access and use of alternative transportation, like Missoula in Motion and Missoula Free Cycles. Someone should write up an op-ed about rules of the road and basic etiquette for cyclists because too many people act like idiots unaware of the risk they cause others with their behavior.
Alternative transportation is very important in a locale like Missoula. As more people move here air quality is affected, making smoky summer skies and winter inversion skies even worse. But improving access, use and infrastructure is a hard sell when those who benefit act like assholes.