Monday, April 21, 2008

It doesn't matter if you talk til you're blue in the face, some folks would rather be dead right than submit to being subservient in a traffic situation. These are the same folks who weave in and out, run stop signs and worse, red lights, but demand that automobiles adhere to their strict rules. These are the cyclists who make it difficult on the rest of us. I admit to cruising through stop signs as long as there is no traffic anywhere in sight, but not red lights. But my subject today is road rage.
Back in the "old days" most people went to work during the day, did their shift, then, if they were so inclined, stopped off for a drink or two. I mention this to make the point that riding during the day was much safer than now. Today, it seems more folks driving around all day and are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, maybe even excess testosterone. Just the other day someone leaned out the window, foaming at the mouth, to rant and rave merely because he caught sight of me (not because I did anything to provoke him) on my bike. This is an all-too-common experience.
Why anybody who is as exposed as a cyclist is, would respond with a crude gesture (first amendment protection will not fend off a two ton auto), is beyond me. You must be the better person, plus realize they are not inclined to rational thought processes.
In some communities, motorcyclists (and cyclists too, I guess) are allowed to ride between lanes. But if not, then you should take it on the chin, and not pass a passel of cars at a red light, jump the light, then make them find a way to pass you again. We are talking about a one lane road/street, not one with a bike lane or shoulder. Granted, it is sooo much fun to get through rush hour traffic faster than a car, and usually quite self-satisfying. But you are not in their shoes, you are in yours, so judge not and be not pompous.
Smile and wave (all 5 fingers, spread wide) a lot, when you can. Most of the time, the smile is returned. If you get a scowl and 1 finger, give that car/driver room to move on.
Please don't get the idea that riding in traffic is all about being passive. Over 50% of the drivers have no clue as to how to get along with a cyclist (as opposed to those who intentionally want to harm or intimidate), so it is up to the cyclist to help them. For instance, take up a lot of lane if it is so narrow that both you and the car can't go side-by-side. If you squeeze to the right, they might attempt to pass.... If you stay more in the center, they will stay back until a safe move can be made. More later.

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