Friday, November 07, 2008

Biking: Nice People on the Roads

Mr. Hatandcoat has commented that all my horrific biking stories make him want to bike less. I don't want to be responsible for his biking interest becoming stunted. So here's something nice.

I am not a scofflaw cyclist. I follow the laws of the road. This sometimes causes more delays, because people are expecting me to be another speedy biker with a chip on his shoulder.

Tonight, biking to Haydee's Restaurant in Mt. Pleasant, I came to a stop sign. There was a car coming the other way. We stopped at the stop signs at the same time. I was holding my arm out to the left, indicating a left turn. I went forward slowly in a straight line as the car facing me started to go. Then the car stopped, seemingly waiting for me to make the left. I had to say "Go ahead" and jerk my head the way the car should go in order to get him to clear the intersection so I could turn left.

The driver assumed I was holding out my left arm to signal an instant left turn. He thought I was going to put on a burst of speed and cut across his path. He's been trained by other cyclists to believe the worst of us.

Stopping at red lights confuses people, too. When my side has a red, and the oncoming traffic has green, and the driver sees me slowing down to stop at the red light, they slow down, too, just in case I'm going to book it through the intersection. It happens a lot.

Tonight, after making that left turn at the stop sign, I came upon another stop sign. An old lady was crossing in front of me. I slowed down, but the lady stopped midway across anyway. I said "Go ahead, you have the right of way." She said thanks and finished crossing.

It's not all bad for cyclists. Respect the law, and you'll find that some people will be pleasantly surprised by you.

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