Monday, October 8, 2007

Bicyclist / Motorist Interaction

There was an interesting letter in yesterday's Idaho Statesman.

(Click here to link to the web version.)

It says:


Dear driver: Don't do us any favors

Dear driver, I'm that cyclist you hate. Do you think you might consider obeying traffic laws once in awhile? When it's your right-of-way, but you stop in the middle of the road and motion for me to go, you're not doing me a favor. You're putting me at risk and ticking off the drivers behind you. Predictable road behavior — i.e. obeying the proper flow of traffic — protects both of us. You can rest assured that I'm paying far more attention on the road than you are — that's how I survive daily, year-round cycling. If you're going to second-guess someone, make it the idiot behind you that's thinking more about whether he should have gotten soy milk in his mocha than what's happening outside his metal cage.

Daniel Foster, Boise

Mr. Foster makes a good point... and does a good job of explaining one of my pet peeves.

I know the "helpful" motorist is only trying to be helpful, so I'll usually wave politely when one of 'em treats me like a pathetic incompetent... who depends on the kindness of strangers-in-cars. But as I wave, I'm almost always mumbling to myself.

Most likely, the "helpful" motorist has had close encounters with clueless idiots on bikes - riding against traffic, zig-zagging, ignoring not only traffic laws, but the laws of physics and common sense. So I don't feel like I should be too harsh on 'em.

Ideally, bicycling on the roadway is a well-choreographed ballet. I like to watch up the road as far as I can, so as to be aware of potential hazards and plan my adjustments in direction and velocity. Like Mr. Foster says... "predictable" road behavior from all parties is key, and if those friendly motorists are aware of my presence, and obey the traffic laws and drive predictably... that's all I ask.


Anonymous said...

Danielo's (I think) letter could not come at a better time. This morning at Hays/16th St., 16th/State, 16th/Main and 16th/River intersections were all littered with unpredictable motorist. I had one helpful motorist - missed my bright yellow jacket and tried to let me pass him after I had taken the lane behind him. One guy didn't know where he was going and made 2 last minute lane changes. The last guy thought he could beat me to the light where I go straight and he turns across my lane.

None of them where close calls, but could of been if I had not been paying attention. Just one of those mornings- is not the first and sadly won't be the last.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link love, yes that's my letter. The first version of it was vitriolic and angry. This is the fourth version. Rrrrrrrr!

Bikeboy said...

"Oh jiminy!" (As Senator Craig would say.)

You mean... Daniel Foster and "Danielo" are the same guy??!?!? Well, no wonder I identified with that letter; it was written by a kindred spirit!

Way to go! You did a good job of explaining the problem. (Expect to see a response or two from huffy-puffy pickup-drivin' rednecks who will set things straight... the biggest vehicle rules the road, you know?)

Danielo and Clancy both make the important point that the still-alive cyclists are the ones who are paying attention.

Anonymous said...

Bikeboy is right, and I need to try to be more patient with these drivers. They are, at least, paying attention, and are trying, however misguidedly, to do something good. My reaction is typically to gesticulate wildly for them to go, flash a dirty look, and often yell something like, "just GO, damn it!" I suppose I'm contributing to less-than-friendly attitudes toward cyclists, eh? I'll try to be nicer(though it's out of character)....