It’s not my job to tell people what to do, I get it. I keep telling it to myself over and over again every time I ride my bike across the Queensboro Bridge. I’ve written about this before, but there’s a shared lane fenced off from traffic on the North side of the bridge. It’s about the width of a single lane of normal car traffic.
Only, this lane is divided by a white line down the center. The inside side is clearly labeled every twenty feet or so with these stick-figure graphics of a guy on a bicycle, while directly opposite, there are images of pedestrians. It’s easy enough, biking on one side, walking on the other.
But I don’t understand why people can’t just follow this very simple system. If you’re on a bike, why do you have to bike in the pedestrian lane? If you’re walking or running, what are trying to accomplish by taking up space in the bike lane? Why can’t we just respect the system?
But like I said, I’m not in charge, OK, I get that. It’s not my job to tell people to follow the rules. I’m not a cop. People aren’t obligated to listen to me. And so I try to just bite my tongue. I really do make an effort to not let myself get angry just because other people make decisions that I wouldn’t make.
It seriously drives me crazy though. I’ll be biking on the bike side of the lane when I see a runner coming right at me. What do I do? Isn’t it easy enough to just swerve out of the way? Yeah, I guess in theory there might come a time where there could potentially be a traffic issue, multiple bikers trying to pass each other at the same time at the same spot, a situation that could be neatly avoided if the runner would just stay in his designated running lane.
But most of the time it’s not an issue. It’s certainly not my issue. The guy’s in the bike lane, it doesn’t matter. It shouldn’t matter. I should just ignore it, bike around him. Why do I have to let the actions of a complete stranger dictate the state of emotions inside my head?
But I’m not always thinking the same way every time I cross the bridge. Sometimes I might be in a really good mood. I’ll see that runner, I’ll say to myself, hey Rob, just focus on your own life. Don’t worry about what other people are doing. It doesn’t matter.
Sometimes it works. Other times I might be running late, I might have just gotten into an argument with someone. Maybe I’m just pissed off for no reason at all. That happens, I can wake up on the wrong side of the bed. And look, now I’ve got some idiot running right at me from the wrong side of the lane. Well you know what? I don’t feel like getting pushed around, not today, not by these people just blatantly disregarding the bike lane and the pedestrian lane.
And I just want to put it out there, when I get bent out shape, I know that I’m in the wrong. Every time that I take this shit personally, every time I choose to react to something like this, I get it, I’m the idiot here. Yet sometimes there’s nothing I can do. Something about it just drives me off the wall. Like why do I have to get out of your way? Why don’t you just stay on your side and then nobody will have to get out of anybody else’s way?
There are several ways of me going about being a self-righteous bridge asshole. If the runner is running all the way to the side of the bridge, I might meet him head on, a classic game of chicken. Eventually we get to the same spot, and I kind of put my hands in the air, like what the hell man? And he does the same thing, like come on dude! And that’s it.
Other times I might get verbal, like, “Come on man! Bike lane!” and then I’ve basically lost, because now I’m the crazy person yelling at random strangers on the bridge. It’s all nonsense. I don’t want it to bother me anymore. I just want to ride my bike across without feeling like I’m being one-upped by anyone. Maybe I should start commuting blindfolded. When I get in someone’s face, it’s pointless. There’s going to be another pedestrian in the bike lane like thirty seconds later. What am I going to do, yell at every single person? Is that going to be my thing, like self-appointed bike lane enforcement guy?
I hope not. I hope that eventually it won’t bother me, like I’ll learn to not let it piss me off. But I’m still far away from that day. Because even if I do restrain myself, even if I politely get out of everyone else’s way, it still pisses me off. Just stay in your lane, all right, it’s really not difficult at all.