Thursday, February 9, 2012

Cars Vs. Bikes

A common scene in Portland.

The last few rides that I have been on have had a really unfortunate theme to them. All have had, to varying degrees, altercations with cars. Well, drivers to be more specific.

Now I've been riding long enough to have pretty tough skin. A driver honks (Aggressively. Not in a, "Hey, I'm behind you." kinda a way.) or passes me at an uncomfortably close distance at a really high rate of speed. These things happen often enough (Unfortunately.) the I can let them go pretty easily.

Other times drivers want to yell at me or throw things because they think its funny. Or maybe because I have inconvenienced them for a few seconds. Halted their progress and not allowed them to go at the speed they want to go, when they want to do it.

I'm often amazed by how a normally rational person can get behind the wheel of a car and turn into a completely unreasonable, angry and aggressive person.

I'm not immune to that either. There have been times when I felt like I was going to go out of my mind because traffic wasn't going the speed I wanted. I've caught myself saying things about other people on the road when I'm behind the wheel of my car too. Hell, I 've even said a few things about cyclists out on the road when I was behind the wheel of my car.

And I guess that's what sort of brings me to my point. People are people. There is always going to be a percentage of the population that are either ignorant to the rules, think they are above the rules or quite frankly, just don't give a shit about the rules. They feel like they're above them. At least at that specific moment.

Drivers get that way when they get behind the wheel of a car. Their attitude changes. Even their demeanour. They are safe behind painted metal and glass. Protected from the elements and become detached from all that is happening outside of their metal box.

You are number one!

A walker, runner, or cyclist is no longer a living, breathing human being. At least not in the sense of how you would perceive them if you bumped into them in the hall. They are now road furniture. Things that encumber the right of passage of a car. An irritant on a commute.

And then take pedestrians (Of which cyclists are a part.). They jay walk and act like your not there waiting for them to cross. You have runners with dogs on extraordinarily long leashes. That could pop out into the road way at any minute. You have cyclists riding the wrong way in the street. Or darting in and out of traffic. Ignoring traffic rules and signals. And then there are groups...

Big, giant groups. Riding from white to yellow paint stripe. Crossing the yellow line on blind hills. Ignoring the rules of the road. Emblazoned with the power of their own sheer numbers...

So here's the thing.

There are always going to be dumb, aggressive, dangerous drivers out there. If I were to guess, I would say probably 10% (My own totally subjective guess.) of the drivers out there are like this. And regardless of the rules or how much we try. That number is likely going to stay about the same.

And you know what. I would say the number of dumb, aggressive, dangerous cyclists out there is about the same.

I think it's got more to do with being human than anything.

Now please don't get me wrong. I am not talking about momentary laps in judgment. We all have had, and will continue to have, those moments. It's just part of being a human being.

But lets take a realistic look at our perspective groups reputations and why we have them. While they may be gross exaggerations of the truth, the reason that we have those reputations is because of repeated incidences. So let's not all act like they're completely unfounded.

So the next time you're behind the wheel of your car and you about to go ballistic on someone because you're behind schedule. Take a breath. And remember that they are human too.

And if you're out cycling. Understand your rights as a cyclist. But also be nice. Be aware. Be courteous. Have fun. And be safe....

Rubber side down,

Big E

1 comment:

  1. And maybe stop at a stop sign once in awhile rather than making a car sit for 2 minutes while a group of 40 blows through...-J