So after a few aggravating episodes whilst out for a bike ride, I decided finally to vent my frustrations here. I mean, what better way to end the month of August than with a little misanthropy, eh? Anyway, below are a few things that people do on bike paths that piss me off and simultaneously make me question the validity of Darwin's postulation about the survival of the fittest (obviously if these people keep seeing sunrises and sunsets, there must be something awry in said theory).
I. PEOPLE WHO RIDE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PATH AND/OR MEANDER CASUALLY FROM SIDE TO SIDE
The last time I checked, there hasn't been a biological holocaust nor has some epic world war wiped out the global population. As such, you, person who rides slowly in the middle of the path, are not the only person left alive. With that said, there is a statistically significant probability that, at some point, SOMEONE ELSE will appear magically behind you and wish to pass. Were you to follow the so-called "rules of the road" (more on that in a moment), then there wouldn't be an issue. Since you're electing to be a douche, however, you force the other rider(s) a) to slow their progress, b) to take evasive defensive riding maneuvers, and c) to shout out to your dumb ass to try to get your attention.
See, the frustrating part is that there is a logical chain here that would render this issue moot if people only made the synapse connections. Riding a bike is more like a car than walking simply because a) it is a machine and b) you can easily reach speeds that a car can match but not a runner. Ergo, bike riders should follow the same rules of driving. Think of it this way: if a bike path is like a roadway, then you can imagine that the center of said path is just like the double yellow lines on said roadway. I would like to think that most people don't drive along the yellow lines and opt instead to stay to one side (usually the one on the right, at least in the United States). This ensures that you won't collide with other drivers/riders and it renders your progress both safe and predictable (predictability being a requisite part of safe travel whilst driving/riding). Following the "keep right, pass left" imperative that most states employ makes the whole thing even easier because it removes the guesswork on the part of the person looking to pass. If, however, you're listing slowly from one side to the other, you're more like an intoxicated driver, which, by its very nature, is unpredictable (thus increasing the danger factor exponentially).
Bottom line: stay the fuck to one side!
II. PEOPLE USING CELL PHONES WHILE RIDING BIKES
I shit you not, the other day I was riding along the Henry Hudson Trail when I saw a kid coming towards me on a bike. He was riding with one hand and with the other he was texting with his face about a foot away from the phone. As he rode, he started to veer right towards me. If I had been able to think more quickly, I would've just moved out of the way and let the fucker crash into a tree but instead I gave him a deep-throated "YO," which, unsurprisingly, startled the shit out of him.
Seriously? WHILE YOU'RE RIDING A GODDAMN BIKE!? I think it's people like this kid (and the others that I've seen) that make me doubt Darwin the most. I can only pray for some sort of strange malignancy that affects people who text and drive/ride without causing any harm to the rest of us.
Bottom line: please don't procreate.
III. PEOPLE WEARING HEADPHONES ON A SHARED PATHWAY/ PEOPLE WHO WALK ON THE WRONG SIDE
I'm all about sharing the path with pedestrians but there's a reason there are designated lanes for pedestrians and for cyclists. I used to HATE riding along the beach in Staten Island because it never failed that people would walk on the wrong path. There's a reason there is an enormous depiction of a person on a bike painted onto the fucking path, assholes! Aside from the fact that, when there is a pedestrian path, it's usually on some sort of walkway/roadway that also has an enormous, undesignated stretch that is unofficially for pedestrians in the first place. So basically, cyclists get approximately three feet of asphalt while walkers get the remaining ninety-plus percent. And then they have the balls to cop an attitude when you chide them for walking in the ONE PLACE SET ASIDE FOR BIKE RIDERS!
At least with those people, you can call out and let them know that you're behind them. The worst ones are the people wearing headphones (whether they're walking or riding a bike, and particularly on smaller shared paths like the Henry Hudson Trail) because they can't hear you! Invariably, when you pass them, they have this insanely overdramatic reaction of shock and surprise, which is often followed with some sort of expletive or commentary, regardless of how far away you are from them when you pass. Don't get me wrong--I've seen some real pricks who will buzz them as they pass just to drive home the point and, frankly, they're even bigger assholes than the headphone-wearers.
Bottom line: pay attention to where you're walking!
IV. PEOPLE WHO WALK/RIDE THREE-WIDE AND TAKE UP THE BULK OF THE PATH
Listen, I get that you're out for a stroll/ride with your friends or family and you're looking to enjoy that camaraderie as you go, but how inconsiderate do you have to be to walk in a goddamn chorus line where you're taking up the entire path so that no one can pass you? There's no reason for it, especially since the third person is probably an unwanted, superfluous wheel who was only invited out of pity in the first place! You're on a shared, public pathway, not some private thoroughfare! It's a bike path, not the goddamn yellow-brick road and you brain dead assholes sure as hell aren't on your way to see the wizard.
Bottom line: share the road!
V. PEOPLE WHO STOP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PATHWAY
This one applies mostly to other cyclists but there are plenty of pedestrians who do it too. Why in God's good name do you feel compelled to take a break or to make some sort of pitstop IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PATH!? Pull the fuck over to the side! I'm a defensive rider in general, which is a good thing because about twenty minutes after I almost got hit by the kid on the cell phone, I reached a blind curve and had my spider sense go off. Two assholes decided to take a break RIGHT around the bend and RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PATH! One guy's straddling his bike, sipping some water and the other jerkoff has his bike laid down on path and he's sitting next to it! There were grass embankments on BOTH sides!!! UGH!
Bottom line: This.
VI. PEOPLE WITH DOGS THAT AREN'T ON A LEASH
This one is a touchy subject for a lot of people (and by a lot of people, I mean a lot of dog owners) and I have some equally strong views. Let me say right up front that I do not have a problem with dogs. Out of all of the possible pets, dogs are without a doubt my favorite. I've always wanted either a German Shepherd or a Husky, so it's not like I'm one of those "pets are dangerous" people. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that pet owners are the dangerous ones simply because of their arrogance or lack of common sense.
See, here's the thing: many pet owners seem to assume that everyone else loves animals (or their particular type of animal) or is as comfortable around animals just as much as they do/are. As such, when they leave their dog off of the leash out in public (whatever they do on their own property is their own business, as long as the dog can't get out onto the sidewalk/street), they're assuming that anyone passing by will have a particular, homogenous reaction to their pet. The problem is many-fold but the most salient parts are that a) they assume that they know EXACTLY how that dog is going to react to EVERY SINGLE PERSON that will pass by (thus the aforementioned arrogance) and b) they assume that every person who passes by is comfortable with dogs.
I can't tell you how many times I've been out for walks with my son in the stroller and I saw a dog off a leash hanging out in someone's unfenced yard. I'd say in more than half of the instances, when we were close enough, that dog suddenly bolted towards us. The owner would yell the dog's name and tell it to get back over there (completely ineffective pack leadership) but by then, the dog would already be near the stroller. Now, for me, I have only one responsibility in this case and that's to protect my son. I don't know your dog and I don't know if (s)he is friendly or not. All I know is that the fucking thing is running towards me and I will have only a split second to decide whether or not I'm kicking it in the teeth (which I would do only if it posed a threat to my son).
Worse, still, is when we're out and Timmy isn't in a stroller. One day we were walking up the block in Staten Island and these two vicious little dogs were running around while their owner was speaking with another neighbor. I had had them nip at my ankles enough times to assume how they would react (ironic, I know) when we approached. Sure enough, as soon as they spotted Timmy, they shot right towards him. I scooped him up just as they got to within a few feet of him. The owner stops his conversation and calls them back. Livid, I told him that he should have the fucking dogs on a leash to which he responds (I shit you not):, "Ah, don't worry. They're my dogs." I was flabbergasted, mostly because of the horrific logic implied in what he said. I told him that that was great and that I'm sure if those dogs bit my kid, that the judge would throw the case out based on that fact alone.
Again, it's the arrogance of these dog owners that pisses me off. I don't care if you've had your dog for fifteen fucking years, you do NOT know how it is going to react in a given situation! In fact, the LONGER you've HAD the dog, the more likely you are NOT to know. It's a dog--an animal! You don't know what it's thinking or feeling, or, more specifically, what's going to set it off. What if my wife is wearing a perfume that makes the dog freak out? What if it runs over to my kid who moves his arms too quickly, startling the dog and causing it to bite? I don't care if that dog has reacted the same way in 1,000 similar instances--all it takes is one attack a) to potentially scar a kid for life and b) to warrant putting that dog down.
The best is the "Oh, (s)he's friendly!" line that many dog owners use when their animal is rocketing towards or jumping all over you. How's this for a response? I DON'T GIVE A SHIT. And one more: THAT'S NOT THE POINT! Inherent in that train of thought is the assumption that the person likes dogs or is comfortable with them. I don't give a shit if your dog is the friendliest fucking mutt on the face of the planet, I shouldn't have to have that moment of worry when it comes tearing towards me, making me wonder whether or not it's going to attack me. That's why they have dog runs.
The bottom line: if you're in a public place, ESPECIALLY with people riding bikes, keep the goddamn dog on a leash!