Grandfather Clause on Courtesy?
As a bicycle commuter I take a variety of paths to work. At times I am running late and am forced to take the most direct route to my office at 20th and M Street downtown, other times I have the free time to take the long way on any of a number of the paved bicycle paths around the city. More often than not these trips on the path are taken home from work during PEAK RUSH HOUR COMMUTER TRAFFIC. In a congested city like Washington DC, during the peak hours these multi-use paths can be littered with a variety of people taking on a variety of activities. There are the straight up commuters, the racers training, the distance runners, the speed walkers, bladers, women with strollers, you get the picture. It is important for all users to be considerate of each other, we should all be empathetic to the others and SHARE THE TRAIL. Yesterday when taking the long road home I encountered this wide variety of users, I passed each walker, cyclist, jogger with the basic respect. Dropping my speed when I felt that the blue haired lady with the blue haired dog would be spooked or scared by my fast and close pass, and alerting joggers three abreast with ample time for them to create a new formation allowing me to pass, offering an excuse me or a thank you at the appropriate time. Then I felt a cyclist coming up on my tail, I glanced back and sure enough there is a man tailing close behind in a bright colored rain jacket, very 80's. He makes his pass, not a word, not a glance...then he passed a walker...again not a word..nothing. I pass the pedestrian and give a polite and almost quiet, "On your Left." and roll up along side of the other cyclist and make mention of his lack of an "audible." He says that he saw me look back, which is a response that I usually get from these guys. I comment that he said nothing to the walker, as we pass other walkers and I excuse myself and try to be gracious....he says nothing. By this point I am really too winded for conversation, I am on a crusty mountainbike with knobby tires and he is on a well...crusty road bike, but at least he has the thing tires with high pressure for a faster roll. I try to discuss things, in my oxygen deprived brain I am forced to fall back on the grunts and displeasure instead of an articulate well thought out discussion.
more on this in a bit
need to grab some lunch
I am starved
back from lunch
lets try and wind this down before it is time to slide down the dinosaur....
this commuter who may have been a few years older than me was cruising at a healthy clip, perhaps faster than would be safe, but I was going roughly the same speed, so I am in no position to judge. It is my contention that the "audible" is not given to spook the other users and seldom is it used to ask them to move, but rather as a bit of respect....to me "on your left" means, yes I did see you there, no I did not mean to spook you, I am on my way...have a nice day smile exclamation point. This other rider did not feel this way. He as other riders try to do, pulled some sort of tone like..."I have been riding these trails for years..." Well, I rode those trials when they were still train tracks, so shut the fuck up grandpa! The trails have not been there that long, I grew up in that area and I did ride my Sturdem Archer three speed over those bumpy rail road ties. There is no grandfather clause on basic courtesy. Each user has a right to the path. And if we are going to share it we should share it respectfully and hopefully safely. That means....no racing....no drafting.....did I say no drafting...slow at congested areas...anticipate the moves of other users...expect the most idiotic as it is sure to unfold before you....every jogger is about to 'button hook' and head back....every small child is about to zig and zag on their bike...and every dog is about to lunge for a squirrel. But most riders do not ride in anticipation of this. They are all too busy fighting for the crown, King of the Trail!
Well, there are these things on weekends...They are called races. And well, this may be the appropriate time for racing, drafting, letting it all hang out, testing your limits, etc.
I handled this guy wrong. As I often do, but, so many people are always right. Somehow we have all decided that we can argue ourselves right. My parting words to him as I buttonhooked to loop back to DC and he went forward as we hit downtown Bethesda was "as you close your eyes before you go to sleep rethink your behavior."
These are the words from a seasoned asshole. I can be an asshole any time of the day for no reason at all. I wake up un a bad mood, I go to bed in a bad mood, and for no reason. MY LIFE ROCKS! I have a great job (well a good job) A wonderful house, two awesome dogs, a beautiful supportive wife that has given birth to the most amazing children, and yet....I can still be a jerk. But the difference between me and this asshole.....I re-evaluate my behavior. I regret my behavior. I fight my impulses, I work for change. I battle my demons. I try to be a thinking being rather than a reacting being. I try. I have remorse. I have regrets. Again, I try...my evolution is slow... but I am evolving.
As for this guy...
and the many more just like him
I have approached people days after such conflicts. Made my apologise. Tried to pin it on a bad day. And you know what...in each case I have never heard from any of these roadie fucks that they too thought it over. That I was right...drafting is dangerous....or passing without an audible is obnoxious and rude....whatever.
Sorry about my anger
I am working on that
these things take time
I am not a bad person, just very imperfect.