same bitching about cars... different day

yesterday I went for a mellow ride on the karate monkey rigid single speed
during the duration of that mellow ride I encountered the standard bullshit
no matter what I was doing... it was not what the cars around me wanted me to do
sure the gear set for dirt
but the speed limit is 25MPH
the frustrated car drivesr were trying to get past me so that they can break the law
while I cruised within the limits of the law
the car drivers seem to get agitated because I am hindering their ability to break the law
no I am not going 25 MPH
but I am within the limits of the law while they seek to break the law

I pedaled vigorously while still moving at a casual pace
too many times to count I was passed fast and close
cars often not leaving the lane to make the pass
then the few cars that passed wide in an effort to give me space put themselves and others at risk by passing wide at speed on blind curves

same bullshit different day...

I obey the law until there is a variable such as a stop sign or a red light that be viewed as a yield sign
but even during these section of road I am treated like I an outlaw out of place
it is more important for me to pay attention to when it is safe and clear than to focus on the stop signs or the red lights
just because I have a green light it does not mean that it is safe for me to go
just because the cars approaching the intersection have a stop sign does not mean that it is safe for me to go
that is why these signals and signs work as yeild signs
the treatment of me on my bicycle is independent of such scoff law actions I am treated with the some sort of disregard not matter what I am doing or what I have done
so I work the streets in a way that is more intuitive than by the book

while riding my bike on the city streets I am treated as if I have just snatched an old lady's social security check
no one treats me as the husband and father that I am
how do they not realize that I am just like them... someone's son or someone's brother
someone traveling the roads on a bike instead of a car
somehow on the bike I have been downgraded from human being to annoying obstacle

while on the bicycle I am treated in a way as if I do not belong
so almost guiltlessly I dip into the woods

tires off pavement onto dirt
surrounded by rocks and trees, and dirt instead of asphalt, cars, and road signs
away from the cars that clearly do not want me on the road and into the woods

the release of the tension as I escape the cars is dramatic
like the sound of opening a can of beer
pleasure comes before that first sip

in the woods I seldom see anyone
an occasional hiker
maybe a runner

usually a person with a leash-less dog
there are friendly exchanges
sometimes there is the person on foot who wants to read me the riot act and give me the Miranda warning
most of the time there is just a slow to pass then a gentle "excuse me" or "on your left"

when I am getting chewed out by the other trail user... this is when my vacant excuses and all my rationalizations come to surface
I am thinking...
do you own a car?
have you as a car driver decided to modify the law to suit you?
do you break the speed limit by one mile per hour?
if you can modify the law to suit your needs... why can't I?
how is it that you can have a dog off leash but I can not ride my bike?
there is a leash law...
my bike has never bitten anyone... more people are phobic about dogs than bikes
the arguements in my head are never clear
the ideas are always jumbled
it is always difficult because the person wants to give me a lecture not have a discussion
it is usually best to listen to the first words then smile and ride away
that is not quite my nature
I often have to fight my nature

I just want them to realize that my actions are no different than theres...
we all bend and break the laws a bit
I am cognizant that I am bending the law

and while I bend the law I am courteous of others
while others see my infraction but do not care to see that my infraction is no different than their jaywalking or going over the speed limit

the standard car driver is not humble in their actions

they are aggressive in their actions
aggressive and obnoxious
inconsiderate of all others...
arrogant even when in the wrong
putting people at risk
putting themselves at risk
the standard car driver is obnoxious to everyone including other car drivers
yes, car drivers are obnoxious not just to bicyclist
but to other cars as well

my ride yesterday was pleasant enough
well... pleasant all the while when things were not unpleasant
most of my encounters with the cars on the road were far from pleasant
things were pleasant for the full duration in the woods

pleasant for some of the time on the street
okay... not that pleasant on the street

I got passed too fast and too close so many times
there was one driver that tailgated me as I went to make a left turn
then flipped me off after I made my turn
people passed so close that they had to be passing me intentionally close
what lesson does that teach me?
does that tell me that I should not be so far over to risk someone passing in the same lane?
for stretches of winding road I am forced to make the decision for the drivers following close behind
I move over such that they have to cross the double yellow line to pass me
if it is safe and clear to pass
then you can pass
if you pass and fear risk the head on
you will certainly run me down before scratching the paint on your car

it is funny... I do run red lights and stop signs
but... I also stop at red lights and stop signs

when I get to a four way stop and I stop my bicycle
it is rare that a car driver grants me my turn
it is as if I am invisible
if I am treated as if I am invisible... perhaps it is best that I behave as if I am invisible

in downtown multilane traffic I ride through like I am a ghost
never expecting anyone to see me

always trying to put myself where I am most safe
not where people can see me
they are not looking for me
they will not see me
even if I see them in the mirror they look and see nothing
they are not looking to see anything

I dart back and forth
accelerating and decelerating
dodging in and out
far right lane to riding the median strip
there is a method to the madness
my zigging and zagging is not the actions of a madman
this is a conscious effort to be in the place that I feel is most safe

always anticipating the turning traffic, the parking traffic, the approaching traffic, the car door that is about to open, the pedestrian that is about to jay walk
anything and everything
I need to see them

because it is clear that they do not see me

but there comes a time when I need to get away
I need to KNOW that I am safe
it gets exhausting grinding my teeth as the car passes too close
the stiffness in my neck as I tense up because I can feel the hum of the engine riding my rear wheel
the looks, the gestures, the words
that over exaggerate parental shaking of the head

so I do what I do
it is not done everyday

but it happens
I get off the road

the occasional tongue lashing and the threat of the ticket

well... I feel that it is all a solid balancing of the scales
I tend to be considerate on the bike
just as I over exaggerate my consideration of others when I am in my car
I am just like the people I see in the woods
just as I am like the people in the cars when I am in a car
only I exist in a world where I see their perspective as well as mine

I exist in the world of the bicycle, the world of the hiker or the dog walker, and I exist as a car driver
my perspective has been altered
I see things that they do not see
I see people as people
not as annoying obstacles
I have empathy
I have common sense

I know the impact
they need to witness their own actions and their impact
I know mine... I try to balance it

image of jersey stolen from


Icon O. Classt said...

Well-put. The never-ending battle.

We need less laws and more (un)common courtesy.

Oh, and don't try preaching over at the washcyle blog about rolling stops on a bike; you won't believe the shit storm you'll soon find yourself in about how bikes have to behave like cars (never mind the obvious meaningful differences, such as capacity to kill, sight lines, distraction potential, speed, etc.) and that we (keep in mind, these are CYCLISTS spewing this bullshit) need to respect disrespectful motorists (to magically earn their respect, ha), and that we need to be policed (and ticketed) because we are incapable of making rational decisions on our own and because tickets are for our own good, among other equally fatuous contentions. Unbelievable!

Russ said...

Nice post.....I feel your pain..... And way too many people have their panties in a bind about the tickets being handed out to bicycists.

sasquatch2 said...

your frustration with your commuting experience is precisely why we'll never convince Americans to get on a bike unless we make changes to infrastructure and education. you are describing everything that scares people away from biking. I hear you talking about hypocrisy, so many people have no problem being hypocrites and it pisses me off too but it seems to me that those few a-holers you meet are not going to change. The thing that I can get really PO'd about is the clueless stupidity of some drivers. They at least have a chance of learning something... ya gotta have a little faith in humanity!


gwadzilla said...


public service announcements
we need to develop the appropriate thinking early on

the parents of today drive like idiots and assholes while driving their kids to school

how do they think their kids will drive?
just like them but worse would be the answer

a Public Service Campaign through the schools would be a great program

get the kids to spread the information to their parents

if parents drove in a civil manner when their kids are in the car
that would be a major part of the population

just as if people drove through their own residential neighborhoods like civil people... things would be at least that much better closer to home