Possibly Unrelated: Crossing the Road; Bicycle Licenses

While some bloggers spend their time linking to various articles and videos that they find around the web, I usually like to keep this blog as a total narcissism fest. A PBS video (part of the “Need To Know” series) recently blew my mind. I’ve spent the last 15 minutes trying to embed the dang thing in wordpress without much luck. Instead I’ll just have to use ye olde-fashioned hypertext link for it. It’s an 8 minute segment about the most dangerous road in Georgia. It’s a great example of how we’ve spent the last 60 years designing our cities for cars instead of people. Maybe “blew my mind” is an exageration, but saying that I “found it very compelling” just doesn’t sell the tickets. (I first saw this on gcpvd.org)

And now back to the navel-gazing.

If you read the comment sections of any newspaper article about cycling (I don’t recommend this), eventually someone will say that if cyclists want to use the roads, then they should be licensed just like drivers. There are many arguments against this idea and I don’t really feel like going into them right now. If licensing actually involved education about safety and responsibilities, then maybe it would be a good thing. Instead, licensing is about filling out some paperwork and driving around the block in a circle for 5 minutes and voila, you are legally allowed to drive 3,000 pounds of steel and glass at 65 MPH. But the idea of bicycle licenses leads me to the idea of bicycle license plates. Which are potentially awesome. For one thing, since it’s a different class of vehicle, one could afford the Rhode Island dream of having a plate with a low number. For the outtastaytas: yes, Rhode Islanders dream of having low number license plates. So far, I’ve seen 4 different vehicles with the license plate number 1: the Mayor of Providence (it says “city” at the top), the Governor (it says “state”), some unidentified state vehicle traveling at high speed, and a taxi (I guess he has the first RI taxi plate. With so few licensed bikes, I could easily snatch up a vanity plate. I used the ACME license maker to make a few of my own.

I’ll admit that I stole the idea for this one from The Rhode Island Dictionary – an important read for any outtastayta moving here. Unfortunately, RI only allows 6 characters on the plate. This would also rule out:

That’s way too smug for even my tastes. Hell, I’d almost want to side-swipe a cyclist who had that license plate.

I once heard a coworker singing the following to the tune of a well-known Bruce Springsteen song. “Pell and Chafee they were born in silk, but me I was born to drink the Coffee Milk cuz I was born in the Ocean State, got my wife’s initials on my license plate cuz I was born in the Ocean State.” Seems a little weird to me, but evidently this is a local tradition.

Nah, looks a little too much like I’m married to the bike.

Maybe I should just go with what I’m secretly muttering under my breath at the motorists.

I often sing this to the tune of "All You Crazies" by Basement Jaxx.

I could probably even sneak this one past the license plate censors.


4 responses to “Possibly Unrelated: Crossing the Road; Bicycle Licenses

  1. Thanks for the link; I watched the video & it is upsetting.

    Recently I realized my hypocrisy. I ride my bike on the public roads and demand respect. Then I hop in my car and drive like a jerk. Oh, I’ve always slowed & moved over for cyclists & pedestrians, but wait – what about the unseen impacts (pushing up the pace of traffic overall).

    Lots of people barrel down 35 mph portions of Post Road at 50 mph or more, and I used to be one of them. Now I make a concerted effort to be a “moving traffic calming measure”, knowing and going the limit everywhere I drive. I admit it’s really hard to do – I’ve calibrated my driving to go as fast as possible, regardless of posted limits. I have to unlearn the bad behavior. But it will be worth it if it makes the streets a little safer.

    • I’ve had a very similar experience over the years. I know that I’ve done some stupid things in a car on a few occasions. I’ve just been lucky enough to not get in a crash. I’m not sure if I had a particular moment of revelation where I suddenly realized that I could be a little more careful, slow down a few MPH and get to where I’m going 5 minutes later. I think that reading Tom Vanderbilt’s Traffic was the closest thing to an “aha moment,” but I was already leaning that way when I read it.

      We’re all hypocrites sometimes, we’re all “that jerk” or “that idiot” sometimes. All we can do is reduce the number of times we do the stupid things.

  2. but as this video shows it doesnt matter what speed you go but rather the speed that 85% are comfortable at… (which is f%$#ed).

    heres a bike plate for you…

    • Yeah, it’s crazy that this is how they determine the speed limit for a road. It doesn’t seem like RI follows the same rule, because on N. Main, 85% of the motorists are driving 35 MPH when it is marked (not very well) as 25. I’m sure if you asked people who drive on that road they would tell you that the speed limit is 35, because that’s what they feel comfortable driving.

      That’s a good idea for a plate. I’ll recommend it to the single Tesla owner in RI.

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