Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I'm just trying to understand

In the last couple of post, we have discussed the proper etiquette for bicyclist, in relation to other cyclist, and in relation to cars. It is with great trepidation that tonight, we attempt to discuss what we can and should expect in the way of manners from cars and their drivers, in relation to bicycles.

I should qualify the remarks that follow by saying that they are based solely on my own experiences out on the road. But statistically speaking, I believe that people who drive their cars around cyclist must have a better sense of humor than the average person driving down the road. I say this because they seem to always have some sort of prank or game that they just have to play on any cyclist they happen to encounter. My particular favorite is the "lets scream as loud as we can as we go by the cyclist" game. Another good one is the "even though we've got two other lanes to use, let's go by the cyclist just a little closer than we have to" game. I can't really explain what motivates otherwise normal, friendly, and law abiding people to act the way they do in their cars when they get near bicyclist. My best guess would be, unless they screw up and actually run over a cyclist, their really isn't any chance that they will suffer any sort of consequences for their actions. As cyclist, we all hope that by some miracle, we catch up with them at the next red light, but they always seem to disappear.

From a cyclist point of view, my wish, ney call it a dream if you will, is simply this; I wish car drivers would treat me and my bicycle like any other vehicle on the road. All be it, a somewhat slower vehicle, but just another vehicle. I have modest dreams, so that's really all I want. Give me the same room that you would give another car. If you're going to pass me, (and given that I'm usually going a quarter of the speed that you are, you probably will), then wait until the traffic has cleared before you try and pass me. Don't try and slide by in the same lane that I'm in. Wait until it clears and pull out into the next lane and pass. Just like you would pass any car on the road. You certainly wouldn't try to pass a car without using the the next lane. So why would you try and pass me like that.

There's something that I've been needing to say to automobile drivers out there. I'm sorry. I'm sorry that I sometimes hold you up out on the road. I know it doesn't look like it, but I actually am going as fast as I can. I'm sorry that you aren't able to get to where your going, as fast as you would have if me and my bicycle weren't out on the road. If I hadn't been out there, you probably would have gotten to your destination 20, maybe even 30 seconds quicker than if you hadn't been held up by me. Quite frankly, I don't think there's a jury in the world who would hold it against you for just running me over. At least not a jury in Dallas, TX. Shoot, I don't even think you can get a ticket for that any more in Dallas.

To you car drivers out there, the next time you get held up behind a bicyclist, really think about how long you are actually being delayed. If you really stop and notice, I bet it's not more than 30 seconds, max. Unless you're carrying an igloo cooler, and your late for a transplant operation, where could you possibly be going, that that 30 seconds is going to make any difference in your, or anyone else's life.

One day I was riding my bike on a two lane road, (two lanes in both directions). A car came by with a older gentleman, and I use the term "gentleman" liberally, and his wife. As he went by, a LOT closer than he needed to, he shouted out the window "Get out of the f**king road". As he went on by, I noticed that he had a bumper sticker on his car that said "My son proudly serves in Iraq". As I continued my ride, I wondered if he ever considered that I'm some one's son too. I wondered if he considered that I'm some one's husband. And most important of all, I wondered, as he was moving his car over so he could get as close to me as he possibly could, if he considered the fact that I might be some one's father. And while it would be a tragedy if something happened to his son in Iraq, it would be equally tragic if something happened to me, and my wife had to raise our son without me. It would be just as tragic if my son had to grow up without his father.

I think that's the real reason that some people in cars treat bicyclist the way they do. They don't think of the bicyclist as a person. They think of him as an object, an extension of the bicycle. They don't think about the fact that if they get too close to me and cause an accident, they aren't just effecting me. They're effecting my wife, and my son, and my parents, and my sisters.

So to all of you automobile drivers out there, who get such a laugh out of buzzing a bicyclist, or yelling something at a bicyclist, or even throwing something at the bicyclist, before you do it, stop for a second and try to imagine the person on that bicycle. Try and imagine the human turning those pedals. Better yet, try and imagine how you would feel if it was your father on that bike. Makes it a little harder to throw that coke bottle at him, doesn't it?

Peace out.......Nearly Famous Fred

1 comment:

Cliff said...

You don't know my Father, even I might throw something, if I thought he would not recognize the car.