Yesterday, my daughter and I drove from Seattle to the Long Beach Peninsula. Without traffic, this takes a little over 3 hours. The trip took us more than 5 hours. We left Seattle at a bad time of day and there were extra cars on the road with the Seattle Public Schools starting and Labor Day weekend ending (Oh, plus there was a car on fire in the northbound lanes…). It took over 45 minutes to get from North Seattle to downtown Seattle, where the I-5 HOV lanes begin. Once we finally started moving, a State Patrol cruiser cut in front of me, requiring me to slam on my breaks, and remained in front of me for the next 35 miles or so. When he finally moved right, to exit in South Tacoma, I was able to see that he was alone in his car, sipping a can of soda and just beboppin’ along to some tunes. Now, I know some people don’t feel it’s right to use the carpool lane when one of the passengers in the car is a child but I am not one of those people. She’s a person, it’s legal, end of story. I am, however a person who feels strongly that officers of the law should not abuse their power. Carpool lane abuse? Big deal. But we all know that this is just the tip of the iceberg. I, for one, have not forgotten the scandal involving the bear bumper stickers…
Many miles later, on a sparsely populated stretch of Highway 8, I was still pondering this injustice. I had memorized the naughty cop’s license plate number and was thinking about whether or not to report his sorry ass. And if so, to whom? And would that just put me on some sort of a watch list of people to pull over more often? Who needs that? Maybe I’m paranoid. Maybe it’s partly because my mother convinced me during college that the near-daily parking tickets I received (and promptly stuck in my glove box to pay if I ever won the lottery) would likely result in imprisonment and full body cavity searches. Laughing at my mom and wondering if I ever did pay those tickets (?!?!), I spotted a sign nailed to a tree. It was at the entrance of what appeared to be a trailer park. On a huge piece of plywood, scrawled in black spray paint, were the words: “CRIME WATCH AREA”.
There are definitely two Americas. I think I like the one with plywood signs protecting families better than the one with snot-nosed soda-sippers all alone in the carpool lane, shaving a few minutes off of their commute.
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Yoohoo! Seattle Bikers? Over here! It’s me, Mary. The one with the blonde kid who you insist on trying to run down on sidewalks all over the city. Oh, you don’t recognize me? Well it is hard to make out faces when you’re doing 50 miles per hour while also narrowly avoiding children, animals and the elderly who are bailing into shrubbery to escape your smoking tires.
Seattle is a fairly bike-friendly place with ample paths, urban trails, well-marked lanes and something that somebody has unfortunately chosen to call “sharrows”. And yet there you are, zooming along at ridiculous speeds on the sidewalks. Sure, you’re doing your part for the environment and your health (Never you mind the health of your victims…) but please take your pick: Would you like to be regarded as vehicles or pedestrians? You are not gods. Not by a long shot. Not in those shorts. So, here’s the deal:
**Section 11.44.120 RIDING ON A SIDEWALK OR PUBLIC PATH. Every person operating a bicycle upon any sidewalk or public path shall operate the same in a careful and prudent manner and a rate of speed no greater than is reasonable and proper under the conditions existing at the point of operation, taking into account the amount and character of pedestrian traffic, grade and width of sidewalk or public path, and condition of surface, and shall obey all traffic control devices. Every person operating a bicycle upon a sidewalk or public path shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian thereon, and shall give an audible signal before overtaking and passing any pedestrian.
Could you read that? Do you need to take off your stupid-looking goggles and try it again? Because I’d really like to make sure you absorb that information. And while we’re at it, you all seem pretty quick to start hollering at motorists for any perceived infringement upon your rights (and OY! the mouths on some of you!) but I really think you might want to brush up on what those rights actually are before you get yourselves killed. It is, after all, very difficult to effectively argue a point when you are a spandexed human crêpe, splayed out on Greenlake Way with Land Rover tracks on what used to be your head.
In closing, I would like to say that I really think we can all get along here. I will continue to yield to you, even when you are doing outrageously arrogant and stupid things. And even when you look like cosmic psychos. But could you do your part by not making me feel like I’ve wandered into the Tour de Baghdad when I’m just trying to leave a coffee shop or store with my kid? Consider buying a bell. You think you’re too hip for a bell? Think again, Bug Man. Hey, they don’t call Seattle, “The City of Brotherly Love” for nothing. Wait, that doesn’t sound right…
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I spotted this sign yesterday while I was sitting in traffic. No, I did not alter the photo. There is no additional information given as to what or who you might expect to find on the other end of the line if you choose to dial the number. What could it be? A very low-rent dating service? An open-call for prostitutes (The sign was on the corner of 130th and Aurora which makes this entirely feasible…)? A lonely man or woman who has just run out of ideas? I know I’m curious. But not quite curious enough to let this individual have my phone number. If anybody calls, please report back. I won’t tell a soul…
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