Both sides of the wheel
6/12/2011 12:33 PM
The F-word rang in my ears all the way home. It was hurled at me during my bike commute home last week. The message was delivered by a young male motorist in a jeep. The jeepster clearly had no understanding of either the rules of the road, or common courtesy. I was riding through a few hundred yards of construction zone where the speed limit is posted at 25 and the lane is restricted into a no passing zone. I was probably doing 18 mph, but apparently that wasn't good enough. Ironically, after clearing the construction zone and cursing me, the driver pulled into a subdivision a few hundred yards down the road. I guess he just couldn't wait to get home.
A few days earlier, I thought I was going to get pinched between the curb and a city bus. As the bus seemed like it was going to pull over into the bike lane where I was riding, I yelled and the bus slowed to a stop and I continued on. The bus caught up with me at the next light and the driver opened the bus door. "I saw you! I wasn't going to hit you." I said, "Thanks, I appreciate it. You did the right thing." The driver says, "I've been driving for 19 years and I've never hit anyone." As the light turned green, I say, "Not getting killed is a good thing. Thanks." We waved and smiled as we both continued on down the road.
These two incidents highlight that some folks get it and some folks don't. The bus driver understands that there are a variety of users of the roadway all with rights according to the law. The bus driver is probably a fan of reducing road congestion and sees that bikes can decrease the number of cars on the road. He probably recognizes that public transit, along with walking and bicycling, reduces our use of petroleum and all the economic, social, political and environmental consequences of oil. The bicycle rider gets a health benefit from riding, but everyone benefits from reduced exhaust gas pollution. The jeepster doesn't realize that what I'm doing is partially for his benefit. But, because he can't pass me illegally and speed through a construction zone, I deserve to be cursed at. Really?
I'm asking everyone who drives to be nice to bicyclists. I'm asking everyone who rides to be responsible and courteous users of the roadway. A more bike-friendly community is in everyone's best interest.
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