Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Both Sides of the Road


First off, let me say that I do not condone or excuse any of the acts described lately on the Mon Bike Club site. Anyone who grabs a cyclist from a car, guns it, and then tosses them into a guard rail doesn't have the cognitive awareness to discern the seriousness of their actions or, worse yet, they do and relish it. Either way, these sorts need to be culled from the herd. Any baseball bat swinging, mountain dew tossing, high speed buzzing, brake slamming or other obviously life threatening behavior should be addressed. Either intensive reeducation ala A Clockwork Orange should ensue or the deviants should be removed from the populace—method of your choice.

In almost any other setting such acts of one group towards another would be appalling. Could you imagine some intentionally out-of-work miscreant pedestrian taking a Louisville slugger to a random geezer with a walker because he was pissed he had to slow down. How about an SUV ramming a Prius that didn’t see the light turn green quick enough. The police would be all over the case and it might even make front page Yahoo. There are few scenarios when the “strong” (like motorists) are allowed to oppress the “weak” (like cyclists). Nevertheless, that’s what happens on the roads and in the courts sometimes. It’s simply the majority looking the other way when a minority is mistreated. I thought that was supposed to be a thing of the past. “Frankly, I’d like to thump that weirdo too,” is probably the reigning sentiment out there. Obviously, I’m on your side Mon Bikers, as any thinking person would be. I think any oppressive actions, including potential manslaughter, are inexcusable. That being said…

Is it possible that there is at least some provocative action here? All of the cases sited did happen in the most cyclist frequented area. (Which is not so coincidentally, the flattest area.) I ride other roads for the most part and find people to be either friendly or ambivalent. Lucky? Maybe. But, might some people on Rt. 100 be tired of riders strewn across the road, seemingly unaware of the horsepower idling behind them. How many times have you banged on the dash behind a coal truck or semi you couldn’t get around? People might just get irritated at cyclists behaving as if they were cars. I have seen on numerous occasions, cyclists that refused to move to the right. I have yelled “car back” on 100 many a time only to see a couple of guys ignore the call. Imagine: five cyclists move over and two don’t. You and your big American car have to go 15 mph all the way up 100 or risk your life and the lives of the cyclists by riding all the way over on the wrong side of the road if you are gonna get to the smoke shop on time. Do you think you are going to remember fondly the five cyclists who made room or stew about the two buttheads who were expressing their rights (or just didn’t want to break their conversation about anti-chaffing creams and such.)?

Really, just being a Devil’s advocate here, I guess. I just think it is possible that there is some negative reinforcement happening out there. Maybe if we made room when it’s safe, sometimes slowed, or— gasp— stopped, to let a line of cars pass, waved people through when it was safe, didn't dawdle along, or just tried to be our lovable selves out there, we could do a little to reduce the animosity. That way we could weed out the fence sitters and grapple with the real assholes.


3 comments:

RevTim said...

Agree.....you're right about the flatlander cyclist groups and the grimpeurs who both meet fewer autos,and are strung out single file.....and are more admired by many who pass by......on one of my few rides lately,during all the Mountain Dew Can Throw messaging, I was given a 'thumbs up' sign by a smiling young lady - as I was standing,sweating,pedalling the uphill sunny backroads of Pt Marion....maybe it was phermones,though ,as I like to muse........

bluecolnago said...

all i can say is some people just don't get it. i know that some cyclists do things, within their "rights", that may irritate motorists. geez, in the end you have to understand that a 3500 pound car will always prevail in a conflict with a 17 pound bicycle. you also have to remember that some motorists will never "get it" and that it doesn't pay to irritate them. ah well....

that's a good article from portland. liquid courage makes some people really stoopid, eh?

ride safe.

Philmeaux said...

That Mon Bike Club is like trying to get a word in on a pundit of FOX news. SHUT UP SHUT UP THEY COULD HAVE A GUN SHUT UP... no names need to be mentioned but it is obvious that an "official" point of view is the only one that will be tolerated.

In order to treat someone in the manner which you are addressing, they need to first, dehumanize you, which is apparently easy. So you are on the right track.

I ALWAYs take a look back when I hear a car or truck approaching. And even if I can't get it, I ACT as though I have gotten eye contact. This in most cases makes a big difference in how you will then be treated in the ensuing pass.

Watch out for the door prizes. I like to pass stopped traffic on the left and occasionally I see the little sly bastard eying me in the rear view with his hand on the door handle, been bumped a couple times like that with nothing but maybe a small bruise, but now I look to bend a door practically off if that happens... is that wrong?