Entitled and Interred

August 10th, 2007 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

Skeleton on bikeJerky endangerment may know neither age nor gender nor transport mode. On separate ends of a bike trip yesterday a young woman on a bike and a middle-aged man in an SUV nearly took me out. Both times, I called out pleasantly for them to look first, and both times, they replied angrily that it was my job to watch out for them.

In terms of Boston and Cambridge schmucks, if I can use that term with the woman as well, they broke the law, rules of manners and plain sense. Just because I had lots of time and it was a sweet, sunny day, I drew it to their attention in ways much nicer than I might normally. I was traveling to and from Winchester and had lots of time. Sometimes I rush and push it, but I was being a good cycling citizen.

Crazed collegiate

The young woman nearly got hit by both me on a bike and by a compact car. We righteous souls were tooling up Brookline in Cambridge toward Mass Ave. She totally blew through the stop sign (actually, I believe it has two signs at the intersections into Brookline Streete) heading east on Franklin. Both the driver and I were able to slam on brakes and not broadside her. Because I was ahead of the driver and he was going slowly, he squealed tires but stopped a few feet short.

I saw her at the intersection and she had not even tried to slow, just went straight through the signs. I called out, “Hey, you need to watch.” She uttered some obscenity and then, “No, you watch!”

If she does that another time or two, the police will be visiting to arrange for the transfer of the body to her family.

Uptight Unionist

Coming home a few hours later, I was going down Williams Street by Doyle’s, on the way thorugh the Forest Hills Cemetery. Right before Plainfield Street, with the stop sign, a union laborist by his bumper sticker had parked his SUV. He threw open the door right in front of me without thinking or looking.

I was able to swerve and keep from hurting both of us as he threw his legs out. Again and gently I called, “You should look.” He too swore at me and said I needed to watch, not him.

Each of these characters was:

  • Totally in the wrong
  • Breaking traffic laws and regulations
  • Showing bad manners
  • Being stupid and obnoxious

Yet, the weird parallel is that each felt entitled to risk another’s life and limb. Everyone else was supposed to watch out for them. If they wanted to run stop signs or block traffic without looking, that was someone else’s problem. I and the motorist had to accommodate these nitwits.

I suppose if that cyclist had caused a wreck with the car, she might have gotten it. If she were crippled but not killed and then cited for passing the stop sign, she might have felt less entitled. Maybe not. Maybe she’s such a princess that she’s claim the law was unfair.

The guy was likewise an ass. He apparently had no concept that he was in the wrong or that he had any obligation to obey laws and common sense. We could use stronger laws about dooring specifically, but the existing laws would make him responsible for a moving violation with its insurance costs, police charges, and civil liability.

As a cyclist, I may be too forgiving of other bikers. I don’t have an apology for this lady though. She put me at danger as well as herself, and then let me know she was entitled to do whatever she pleased.

These vignettes likely don’t even rate as traffic tales for this area. Boston cops are famous for acting like no blood, no ticket. These fools were saved the expenses and hassles of causing wrecks by quick reflexes and attention of a cyclist and motorist.

Is there any lesson here other than a general lament about society? I hope so.

For me, I continue to look at intersections even with I have the right of way and I watch windows of parked and stopped vehicles for rogue door openers. I also call out thanks to any driver who clearly looks before opening a door. I think smart and polite people need praise. I call a pox on the houses of the other two devils.

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2 Responses

  1. Roy Wallack says:


    I am interested in using that drawing of the cyclist skeleton on a bike in the article “Entitled and Interred. ” Can you tell me who owns it and do you have a number with which i can call him/her?

    Thanks you

    Roy M. Wallack

  2. Harrumpher says:

    That is apparently in the public domain (no claims when it appears in literature or on t-shirts in numerous slight variations). It was on the Tour de Grtaves events run by the Boston Parks and Recreation Department for the benefit of the Historic Burying Grounds Initiative.

    If you want to confirm that, you can contact them via the methods on: http://www.cityofboston.gov/contact/?id=80

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