Friday, March 12, 2010

Park rules no one really talks about…

Unbeknownst to me, probably while I slept because I am a sound sleeper, something horrible happened to my beautiful park. On a bright sunny afternoon, sneaking away from work a few minutes early, I came to discover that my park had been invaded by PEOPLE! Wild strollers, lose overjoyed pooches, and skinny jean wearing cigarette inhaling hipsters have taken over the hundreds of precious acres that I call MINE. Just because the mercury finally reached temperatures above 40 does not mean that every lame person on earth needs to visit the park. If you are lame and you still insist on using the public park, then observe some common courtesies.

1. Get out of my way: Yes, there is a pedestrian/ cycling lane all for us (walkers, joggers, cyclists, roller bladers). The concept of this lane was invented so we do not have to deal with automobiles and we can walk or cycle or inline skate (who the hell does this anyway?) without any worry about being mowed over. This means that pedestrians void of wheels between their crotches or under their feet should move to the side when a cyclist (or rollerblader) comes through. Instead of congregating and taking up the whole lane, step off to the side. This way, I do not have to worry about having a collision with your neighborhood gossip group.

2. Once you get out of my way, stay out of my way: Okay, so you need to cross the street to get to your car. The best time to do this task is when the path is clear, MEANING THERE IS NO TRAFFIC OR OBSTACLES IN YOUR PATH. Do not make direct prolonged eye contact with me as I am barreling towards you and then decide to “dash” to your car. This causes me to use my brakes and honestly, this could end badly for all of us. You will get across the street and to your car…promise. Wait for me to pass and then walk to your car.

3. DO NOT SMOKE…PERIOD: First, smoking is a nasty disgusting habit but it is MORE disgusting is to walk the park for some fresh air while you enjoy your Marlboro Red. How about a water bottle? Gum? Piece of fruit? The LAST thing I want to encounter on my ride is second hand smoke. Oh and when you finish your cigarettes and need a place to dump that filter…try a city provided receptacle…because cigarette butts do not fertilize the ground or make for a nice doggie treat-- ass hole.

4. Your baby is cute…but keep it out of my way too: I get it…you have been cooped up ALL WINTER like the rest of us but YOU have been surrounded by baby drool and soiled diapers. Your decision making skills may be challenged. You need an escape, so you go outside with the baby all bundled, wrapped and swaddled so tightly, his cheeks have a twinge of blue color. Here is a newsflash mom, TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR STROLLER. Do not let it roll without your hands on it and do not push it into my path. Nothing would make me more upset than if I ran over a baby.

5. Soccer moms need to learn to use turn signals: So it’s YOUR turn to drive and load up the minivan…haul the team to practice and pick them up. When dropping off your 7 or 8 future world cup champions, how about using the turn indicator instead of just STOPPING in the street? As a cyclist when I ride behind you, I rely on those standard safety features that came with your car when you bought it. If you insist on just stopping in the road…use your flashers. If you do not know how to use these features on your car, there should be a manual (with arrows and other pictures) under the parking tickets, gummi bears, and Nicorette gum in your glove box.

6. I will not give you directions: So you only come to the park twice a year because exercise you feel is best performed from your couch. Now, you realize your afternoon walk has lead you to the other side of the park and you do not know how to get back. Bummer. There are walkers, joggers, and other strangers all around but you want to flag down the cyclist. DON’T DO IT! I am not going to stop unless I can see that you have severed a limb, lost a large quantity of teeth, or have a sign reading “I want to give you money.” When I do pass you, do not call out names to me, curse me, or make middle finger gestures. I do NOT have to stop and I do NOT WANT to stop so I can tell you to follow the yellow line to get out of the park. Use bread crumbs next time!

7. All dogs poop, pick it up: Dogs poop. They poop anytime, anywhere. Because of this fact…take a bag with you and do not leave a craptastic pile for some unsuspecting cyclist to splatter through. Contrary to some unpopular belief…we do not want to spatter our bikes, our clothes, our shoes, and i-pods with your dogs excrement. Pick it up…throw it away. Yes, it stinks...but this is the responsibility of good dog owners anyway. The road is not a public toilet that will magically erase your dog’s turds.

Within the coming weeks, the plethora of people will dwindle. Some will tire of exercise, sunshine and fresh air (it gets old, right?). Others will make the park an occasional stop. I look forward to these days because there are fewer encounters with those who are inconsiderate and ill mannered. It turns my ride into something quiet and enjoyable. My heart rate goes up while my stress level goes down and thankfully no babies are harmed. These are the good days I look forward to.

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