Saturday, March 7, 2009
An Open Letter To The Town of Arlington
I have known it for a long time. But I couldn't accept it. I couldn't figure out why Arlington drivers are consistently hostile to cyclists. Is it road rage? Do the drivers resent the cyclists' freedom? Do you begrudge us city folk passage through your town? Are the drivers upset with congestion and mistakenly blame the cyclists for their poorly working transportation artery (Mass Ave.)
I have given up. I always believed that we could coexist. I thought that if I patiently explained the cycling traffic laws to drivers, that if I calmly withstood their physical threats, if I diligently reported traffic and safety infractions, I believed that we could help change Arlington into a cyclist friendly place.
I was wrong. In response to greater numbers of cyclists, your drivers have become even more aggressive and hostile. When an verbal exchange occurs, more often than not, your drivers turn it into an altercation and often offer the cyclist physical harm (fists or fenders). In the face of mounting accidents, your police have chosen to ignore the problem and even side with the negligent and sometimes vindictive motorists when a collision occurs.
And don't even mention that the Minuteman Bikeway. The citizens of Arlington beleive that since they "built the ****ing bikepath," that cyclists should not be using any other throughway. Furthermore, traveling on by bicycle on that "bike path" in the summer is like trying to drive an semi through Downtown Crossing during lunch hour.
I have cycled in some pretty unenlightened cities in this state: Lowell, Lawrence, Lynn, Revere, Everett, Somerville (ungentrified sections included), Dorchester, Mattapan, Roxbury, Downtown Boston. Of them all, Arlington is the most unsafe, the most hostile and the most unfriendly. While a driver in a decaying mill town may almost sideswipe you and then apologize because he has is driving under the influence, the average Arlington driver on Mass Ave will do the same, only they are dead sober and the sideswipe is deliberate. No apology
I know when I am unwanted; I accept the situation.
As of today, I will actively avoid the town of Arlington. I have found and will use an alternative route to the outer suburbs when on a bicycle.
My boycott will extend beyond just cycling, I will no longer frequent any businesses in Arlington. I send my regrets to Quebrada Bakery, Capitol Theater, Flora, Tryst, both Starbucks on Mass Ave and The Knitting Room. If you relocate to any other town, I will gladly frequent your fine establishments.
It pains me to give up when I know that I am right. My only request was fair use of your streets, to allow me a foot or two of the gutter. If you were planning on cutting me off, I was asking for a simple turn signal before you did it. I was simply asking for minimum compliance with the law from your drivers and minimum enforcement from your police. No success.
Since I have done you the favor of not cycling in your town, I ask that you keep your drivers out of Cambridge. As a property owner and a taxpayer in the people's republic, I am confident that I speak for the whole city when I say that your rage rage filled, SUV driving, cellphone clutching, text messaging, traffic law ignoring, hostile cigarette smoking ignorants are no longer welcome in our fine city.
Thank you for your consideration in this matter.