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LJWorld.com weblogs Rolling along

Cycling with the human shields

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My family and I rode to the doughnut shop the other morning, and I have to say it was one of the most enjoyable rides I've had in a long time.The company helped, but I was struck by how infrequently I was, well, almost struck.Cars gave all of us a wide berth. Drivers let us go out of turn at traffic signals and smiled behind their windshields, gleefully waving us through stop signs and hanging back - way back - as they approached from behind.Later that same day, on my commute to work, one driver cut in front of me and turned right, forcing me to take evasive action to avoid becoming a smear. Later, another car turned left in front of me on Mass. Street, again eliciting an emergency squeeze of the brakes.At first I chalked up the difference to the "mood" of the traffic.I hate to stereotype, but it seems folks collectively drive differently at different times of the day.Drivers during the morning rush (like I see many of those) seem to me more laid-back - "Sorry, boss, I'm late, but I got behind a slow guy on a bike " - than those during the evening drive time -- "GET OUT OF MY WAY, BIKER BOY, I'VE GOT A DATE WITH A PIZZA AND 'AMERICAN IDOL!"I've always considered Saturday overnight to be the time most likely to get hit, while Friday night/Saturday morning seems to be the time most likely to get hit by a projectile.Our doughnut run was a Sunday morning, and at first I just attributed our carefree jaunt around Planet Bikejoy to be a result of timing. All the Saturday partiers were still in bed, I reasoned, while folks filled with feel-good church vibes were showing their newfound fondness for their Almighty of choice with some goodwill toward men (and women and children).Then it dawned on me our idyllic ride was the result of the two ankle-biters we had in tow.That's right, drivers were nice to all of us because my 10-year-old daughter Carlyn and 7-year-old son Brooks were along for the ride.Of course, I'm biased. I think my kids are awfully cute. But apparently something about Brooks wobbling along on his almost-too-big big-boy bike and Carlyn on her purple mountain bike with the Fourth of July streamers still in her spokes makes people drive friendly.Why that goodwill turns to outright rage in some drivers when they encounter a grown (or nearly grown) adult cyclist has me bewildered, but whatever. I guess I simply should enjoy my human shields while I can.Now if only I can find a way to have Brooks and Carlyn lead me out for my commutes to and from work ...

Comments

monkeyspunk 6 years, 4 months ago

This morning I passed a woman on Kasold who while riding without a helmet and with buds from her I-pod in her ears. After turning onto 8th to head east, I saw in my rearview mirror her run the stop sign at Kasold and 8th. Sounds like a Darwin nomination waiting to happen. For the love of Pete, stay safe out there.

nobody1793 6 years, 4 months ago

I saw a kayak turn left on Iowa street without using a turn signal or a life preserver.

nobody1793 6 years, 4 months ago

Did I read correctly that your 7 year old was riding in traffic?!

dwhiteley 6 years, 4 months ago

As both a cyclist and a driver, I share your concern. However, let's keep in mind that there are plenty of cyclists who give this mode of transportation a bad rap as well. Nearly every day around the campus, I run into cyclists who fail to stop at stop signs, stop lights, or for pedestrians, children, and animals. According to our local law enforcement, a bicycle is a vehicle, not a pedestrian; and must obey all traffic signs and laws. It helps when everyone pays attenion and abides by our laws.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 6 years, 4 months ago

I'm unimpressed. I saw a woman jogging backward this afternoon...facing traffic ( staring it down ) .

alm77 6 years, 4 months ago

Well, of course!! Everyone likes to see a nice family doing something together!! I'm sure it also helps that a family of 3-4 is much easier to see than a single cyclist. And yes, everyone on a Sunday morning is out and about usually because they've thought of something to do and not because they have to be somewhere.

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