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Reckless Youth

The other evening I was gassing up the Shaggin' Wagon at a local convenience store when I looked up and saw three kids cutting through the lot on bicycles. They were about 14 or so, two girls and a boy. None of them were wearing helmets, but that's nothing too unusual -- they haven't quite caught on with the teenage biking set.

What did freak me out for a moment was the youngest-looking girl. She had one hand firmly on her handlebars, and the other holding a cell phone clamped to her ear.

This was a little before 8 in the evening, in lovely, urban downtown Manchester, along two of the busier streets in the city. And this young lady was zipping along on her bike with one hand on the bars, yakking away, blissfully unaware of the cars zipping past her at about 40 MPH. (The limit's 30, but nobody follows it. Nobody but me, of course.)

I hope I don't see her again in the newspapers, but I fear that it's only a matter of time.


Comments (25)

Just a comment, this articl... (Below threshold)
Cryptoref:

Just a comment, this article didn't start with a J. Isn't that a violation of the new blog rules?

Just looking for something ... (Below threshold)
Mark:

Just looking for something newsworthy, interesting, or controversial in the post.

Perhaps its the revelation that when traffic is flowing at 40, Jay Tea takes pride in clogging that flow. Way to go, Jay.

When "moving with the traff... (Below threshold)

When "moving with the traffic flow" is the equivalent of "running with the lemmings", I'll clog up the flow an avoid a ticket, thanks.

That extra 10MPH doesn't mean much when you're not going very far, and on a city street, can be the difference between stopping in time and running down someone's kid.

Dangit. That sentence stru... (Below threshold)

Dangit. That sentence structure an punctuation sucked. Forgive me, floks, I'm a day sleeper and not really awake.

Holds true in the city Bria... (Below threshold)

Holds true in the city Brian. You clog up the flow of traffic on a highway, you're likely to die.

Brian,The point ab... (Below threshold)
Mark:

Brian,

The point about avoiding kids is good. But I disagree with the lemming/ticket bit, and especially the part about speed benefits and city streets.

Obstructionist drivers can cause you to miss 3 or 4 lights in the space of only a couple miles. Some light cycles are 5, 6 or 7 minutes long on busy streets in big cities. Thus, a 5-minute drive can be converted into 20 or 25 minutes by inconsiderate members of the anti-destination league. For people on a tight schedule, this can wreak serious havoc.

Also, one is unlikely to get a ticket when the only offense is keeping up with the flow of traffic. First, you are not likely to capture the cop's attention. But more importantly, they are rarely equipped to stop everyone at once. The numbers are on your side. At best, they pull over 2 or 3 while dozens or hundreds flow past.

My $.02? Drive 40, but be alert and safe. You'll stop much faster than the average 30 mph distracted idiot driver.

Brian,The point ab... (Below threshold)
Mark:

Brian,

The point about avoiding kids is good. But I disagree with the lemming/ticket bit, and especially the part about speed benefits and city streets.

Obstructionist drivers can cause you to miss 3 or 4 lights in the space of only a couple miles. Some light cycles are 5, 6 or 7 minutes long on busy streets in big cities. Thus, a 5-minute drive can be converted into 20 or 25 minutes by inconsiderate members of the anti-destination league. For people on a tight schedule, this can wreak serious havoc.

Also, one is unlikely to get a ticket when the only offense is keeping up with the flow of traffic. First, you are not likely to capture the cop's attention. But more importantly, they are rarely equipped to stop everyone at once. The numbers are on your side. At best, they pull over 2 or 3 while dozens or hundreds flow past.

My $.02? Drive 40, but be alert and careful. You'll stop much faster than the average 30 mph driver who is likely distracted by a million things.

Weird, I didn't push the bu... (Below threshold)
Mark:

Weird, I didn't push the button twice.

That Darwin knew what he wa... (Below threshold)

That Darwin knew what he was talking about.

Well I'm sure I'm going to ... (Below threshold)
BluesHarper:

Well I'm sure I'm going to pet the kitty the wrong way but...

Oh my, no helmets!! How did I ever survive? Do you realize how much money insurance companies could loose if we all did that? Bubble wrap everything.

Sorry, I'm an old fart. I enjoy watching teens jump from bridges into the water just like the sign told them not to. Not wearing helmets is another simple pleasure. Go for it!

Live damnit.

Yeah yeah yeah - I know. Shat happens.

I make my kids wear helmets... (Below threshold)
Mark:

I make my kids wear helmets, but I didn't start wearing them until my mid-thirties. Fuck the insurance company, it's the deductible I want to conserve (that's a joke, I love my kids too much to let them crack their skulls).

But what's so unusual about kids riding bikes while distracted? In my day, we held transistor radios to our ear, while riding our friend's little sister on our handle bars. Then it was boom boxes. Bags of groceries. Riding with no hands. Jumping across parking lot entrances. Lighting bongs. Whatever. I bet every kid has ridden their bike with full hands while distracted on or near busy highways many times in their lives. So what? Where's the issue? I suspect each of us can come up with things we've done that, in hindsight, were much more foolish than Jay's description of this one girl. And we all lived to tell about it, and learn from it.

Jay Tea, were you a hall monitor in school?

Don't they configure the li... (Below threshold)
jack12:

Don't they configure the lights according to the speed the traffic is supposed to be going? So if you are traveling too fast won't you get ahead of the lights and hit reds that would have already changed to green if you were driving slower)?

And don't they also set speed limits according to the speed that is safe to drive?

But according to you I'm supposed to speed beacause the other turkeys on the road are driving too fast? If you need to get there sooner then leave earlier.

On a side note, there is a road I drive often in Mass. where almost everyone (but me) speeds. Its a single lane back road, and goes past lots of farm land. When it meanders past the scattered houses the posted speed drops down to 30 MPH. When I drive through (at the speed limit) I usually end up with a long line of (annoyed) traffic behind me. Sometimes I pull over and let it by. However, this stretch is
a favorite spot for the police to set up speed traps... there have been numerous times that I have seen the people that passed me (and give me dirty looks if not worse) pulled over a little further ahead getting a ticket .

Funny how things change. B... (Below threshold)
joe:

Funny how things change. Bike helmets didn't even exist when I was a kid (late '70s, early '80s). Mercury thermometers were normal.

It's amazing how often spee... (Below threshold)
joe:

It's amazing how often speeders who pass me with an annoyed look end up a few minutes later stopped at the same light with me.

Jack12:Sometimes l... (Below threshold)
Mark:

Jack12:

Sometimes lights are timed for a certain speed, sometimes not. Sometimes they're timed in your direction, sometimes against you.
But none of that timing matters when you turn onto other streets. If you have to weave through town to get to a destination, and you run into one or two slow or disoriented drivers, you're gonna miss lights. I hate missing lights as a result of other's driving.

Oh, and speed limits are set at *the* speed that's safe to drive? Please tell me what that speed is. Some cars corner at 1 g, some at .6 g's. Some can stop in 60 feet where another would require 180 feet. Some vehicles offer superior visibility, others do not. Are you telling me there is one, and only one, safe speed upon which speed limits are set?

Did you know it is possible to get a ticket in Southern California for driving the speed limit in the fast lane of a freeway, if you are obstructing the flow of traffic which may be much faster (20-30 mph) than the speed limit? In certain situations, stubborn "speed limit" drivers create a safety hazard, and they are required to get the hell out of the way.

Yeah, Mark, all thoes evil ... (Below threshold)

Yeah, Mark, all thoes evil people obeying the law are a real hazard.


Everyone just smile and nod.....smile and nod....

PIMF: those... (Below threshold)

PIMF: those

Thanks for bringing this to... (Below threshold)
Neo:

Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Mr Nanny of the whole human population. You must have nearly fainted when you saw they weren't wearing HELMETS!

Let evolution take its course, I say.

Heh, who said anything abou... (Below threshold)
Mark:

Heh, who said anything about "evil," Brian?

Just stating a fact. One can "obey" a speed limit, while violating a competing statute that forbids obstructing the flow of traffic, and requiring slower vehicles to drive on the right. People are occasionally ticketed for that here in So. Cal. because they are sometimes deemed a hazard. Anybody who has tried to drive 65 in the fast lane on the road to Vegas knows what I'm talking about. Pragmatic cops try to get them out of the way of the 85-100 mph flow on some nights.

Intersting. So it is a vio... (Below threshold)

Intersting. So it is a violation of the law to obey the law?

Wonderful. Why don't we just arrest everyone for polluting the air by breathing?

I have indeed heard of such citations. They are usually thrown out if contested. And I seem to recall (I may be wrong) a few lawsuits against police departments over them. If I got such a ticket, (and I probably won't - I speed in the left lane too) I would file suit on the grounds that I was cited for not breaking the law. The state tells me to go no faster than this speed and no slower than the other on the highway. If I obey those instructions, I get cited? Sounds like entrapment to me.

A person going signifigantly slower than the speed limit, however, is instucted by law in Texas to remain in the right lane, thus such citations would pass muster.

Much of this comes down to philosophy. Who is endangering public safety; the one who is obeying the law, or the many who are breaking it?

I come down on the many.

Down here in metro Atlanta,... (Below threshold)

Down here in metro Atlanta, we have a word for people who only drive the speed limit.

Scenery.... (Below threshold)

Scenery.

My kids wear helmets.... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

My kids wear helmets.

They do not have cell phones.

Unless they get jobs and pay for them, they are unlikely to have a cell phone provided by me.

Brian,This is not ... (Below threshold)
Mark:

Brian,

This is not the only area where one violates the law by obeying it. I was recently ticketed for stoping in a red zone at the right curb. Ahead of me was a stop sign and a cross-walk full of Jr. High kids. The law says I must stop at stop signs. It also says I must yield to crosswalks full of kids. It also says I cannot stop adjacent to a red curb. I received a $65 parking ticket for that!

You're right about the near (or total?) lack of convictions for driving the speed limit--and even in the cases where the slowpoke is driving 10 mph slower.

As for who is the true hazard? I'm with you 90% of the time. But I must confess I've done some foolish shit out of frustration to avoid the slowpokes. Most people I know have, and the negligence or recklessness is not excused. But some pragmatic views suggest eliminating the catalyst that inevitably provokes the negligence of others. Its a strange world.

I'm obviously one of those assholes who believes he's above the traffic laws, and I view everyone else on the road as an obstacle. And, my busy schedule is far more important than anyone else's need to obey the law or whatever. Fortunately for society, I've been accident free. Fortunately for me, I've never had a moving violation (tho I deserve plenty). But my time will come, and you may feel free to gloat when it does.

I've been known to drive a ... (Below threshold)

I've been known to drive a fraction of the speed limit on the interstate. (2 over 1 is a fraction, right?)




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