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These bikers think they own the roads

Tom Raaf | Monday, December 8, 2003

As I was walking back from class the other day and approaching the home stretch on the way back to my dorm, I turned the corner and came head on with a biker who was tearing up campus on his brand new Mt. Fury. I darted left and he bailed into a bush, coming inches from drilling me at Lance Armstrong speeds. When he got up, he looked around nervously, made sure he hadn’t lost the connection on his cell phone call, and continued on his way, most likely to the jerk store. I witnessed another similar instance just a few weeks before in which two bikers crashed behind Alumni Hall. James Bent, the innocent party, had this to say about the incident, “This kid was out of control! He looked at me, hit his brakes momentarily, then continued to accelerate into my brand new Schwinn. There’s no way this kid’s parents enrolled him in safety town as a child.”In case you aren’t able to think of any particular biker misbehavior off hand, I figured I’d lie out a few of the common violations for you. First, there’s the kid who thinks it’s cool to weave in and out of groups of walkers like a crazy psycho. He also enjoys speeding down South Quad and tearing across the grass, which I remind you, is 100 percent in violation of du Lac, or as I call it, the Cup of Life. Typically, this kid also uses the word “awesome” and can’t stop raving about “how bad the south quad wind tunnel is.” Junior Mark Crnich had this to say about the speed racer type: “Some of these kids treat that path to O’Shaughnessy like the friggin’ X-games. I think I actually saw a kid do an endo [brake hard on the front brakes to pop the back tire up – the ultimate in middle school biking tricks] last week too. Redonkulous I say, redonkulous.” Another popular trend among the bikers is to bike at one mile an hour so they can talk with a friend who is walking. Many do not realize that it is nearly impossible to operate a bike this slowly without wavering all over the sidewalk. Simply getting off the bike and walking with it while talking to a walking friend just must be an absurd concept to these unfortunate violators of biking etiquette. Although I do not feel that these people are as bad as the 60 m.p.h. Tour de France members, they still are guaranteed to clip my heel once a week.In light of these problems that have plagued the Notre Dame population, I propose that we walkers impose a general rule of biker regulation that I call the 2X rule. Under this regulation, walkers would be permitted to stick out their arms and clothesline any biker who passes them within arms length if the biker were traveling at more than twice the walker’s speed. Some may respond to this regulation saying that it sounds a bit harsh, but I think that the bikers will think twice about racing by after getting a mouth full of hairy forearm and a love tap from the concrete in front of a senior citizen tour group.I hit the hard streets of the Notre Dame campus to gauge student reaction to my new policy. Junior Ryan MacDonald said “Although I’d really like your policy to have something involving animal sacrifice and puppeteering, I feel that it will suffice in showing these bikers how to behave. Go, Irish, GO!” Senior Dan Guerin was surprisingly angry when I asked him for a reaction, throwing a tantrum and stating “My mom said these bikers make baby Jesus cry. I hate them and their insatiable need for speed.” He then began to play patty-cake on his lap and sing campfire songs. What I am trying to say here by featuring these mildly entertaining stories is that the bikers on campus have gotten way out of line. In these dark times of biking danger, I believe that we need a model citizen on whose example we can rely to show us the right way in which to operate our bikes. After two and a half years of observing people on campus, I’ve decided that none other than Carlyle Holiday is the model biker for Notre Dame. Always riding at an acceptable speed and watching out for pedestrians such as myself, Carlyle never makes the walking population fearful or bitter with inappropriate tomfoolery … except sometimes I get a little nervous when he rides with one hand. I was never actually able to get a hold of Carlyle, so I hope he doesn’t mind that I am granting him this role.

Tom Raaf doesn’t ride a bike, but he was often seen on a motorized cart of his friend. Contact him at traaf@nd.edu.