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Beware of idiots

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Wednesday, as the sky was falling, I was driving my 8-year-old son to an appointment and casually asked him if I should ride my bike to work later.

It’s a game I frequently play with my kids. If the weather is bad or threatening, I’ll ask their advice. If they advise well, I dismiss their contribution and take all the credit myself. If they advise poorly — if the storm never materializes, or the rain starts well after I would have returned home — I berate them mercilessly and engage in the kind of psychological torture that’s sure to earn them plenty of shrink couch time later in life.

It’s win-win, really.

Anyway, my son wiped away the condensation on his window, took one look at the carnage and shook his head.

“You should drive,” he said. “Too dangerous.”

Why?

“What if you can’t stop? You might run into someone.”

I assured him I wasn’t worried about running into someone on my bike so much as someone running into me.

“Oh, then, yeah, you should ride,” he said before retreating somewhere in the recesses of his mind only an 8-year-old boy could enjoy and no adult would dare follow.

I really was going to ride, but the appointment went long, so to save time, I decided to drive. I regretted the decision it almost immediately and made sure to take it out on my kids that night.

A day later, I again drove to work, and a series of events made me wonder if my son’s knee-jerk response — “too dangerous” — was more accurate than he knew.

First, I got stuck behind a slow-moving import that I thought was having trouble with traction. The driver slipped left, overcorrected right, swerved back left, re-overcorrected right, plowed into a snowdrift and narrowly missed a curb. Fortunately, the driver somehow managed nearly to cause a couple of accidents without having to remove the cell phone from her ear.

A couple of blocks later, a car got squirrelly on a side street, then got completely sideways as it turned onto Sixth Street, barely missing a line of cars waiting to turn left. Within two blocks, the mental giant behind the wheel had passed a car on the right and cut that driver off to get back into the left-turn lane, where he slammed on the brakes and slid past his turn, before slamming it in reverse. I watched in my rear-view mirror as he backed up, his car half-way in the turn lane, half-way in the straight lane, forcing two cars to swerve out of his way.

A half mile or so down the road, I nearly T-boned a guy pulling out of a fast-food joint. Even on a dry road he wouldn’t have had time to turn left in front of me cleanly; in the snow, he spun his wheels as I jumped on the hooks, triggering the antilock brakes. It was oh-so-close, but the guy didn’t seem concerned enough to put down the Whopper he was shoving into his face all the while.

Then on the way home, the driver of a tiny speck of a car thought she should tailgate me down Sixth. At one intersection, she slid to a stop that had to have ended just inches from my rear bumper. I have to admit, though, it was kind of funny to see her and her passenger almost bump their faces on the windshield — seat belts anyone? — as the car came to an abrupt halt on a rare patch of clear asphalt.

Then I thought about my most recent bike ride to work. I spent so much time trying to stay upright, I didn’t have much time to worry about the folks around me.

As vulnerable as I felt in my car a couple of days later, I’m glad, for once, I didn’t try to dodge the idiots on my bike.

Comments

ModSquadGal 4 years, 11 months ago

I'm sure drivers were glad they didn't have to dodge the idiot on the bike either.

AnnaUndercover 4 years, 11 months ago

:) Enjoying your writing as is becoming usual.

labmonkey 4 years, 11 months ago

Anyone would be stupid to ride a bike in this weather. And it is usually the person calling everyone else an idiot who is an idiot themselves.

fastwalker 4 years, 11 months ago

In complete agreeance with labmonkey. get over yourself, Hartsock. Why not write a diary instead?

fastwalker 4 years, 11 months ago

you are a true buffoon to even attempt to ride your bike in this weather.

boothillbilly 4 years, 11 months ago

Waah, I'm so smart. Why am I surrounded by idiots? Waah.

Truami 4 years, 11 months ago

This was a very enjoyable little article. I would argue that it would be safer for everyone to be on the bikes (year round) but with the temptation of cars (and the attitudes of my fellow readers) that this may just be another pipe dream.

My only dissatisfaction is that I do not see a lot of flow with the topic about the placement of the bike. Granted, I was able to ask myself through the article,

"The author is driving a car while seeing these people right?"

This question did translate into some personal thinking (which I applaud you for).

newmedia 4 years, 11 months ago

Not all was lost. I'm sure he was driving a hybrid with a bike rack strapped on the back...

Leslie Swearingen 4 years, 11 months ago

This is a really good blog, Andrew. Everyone seems to have missed the point about these drivers. What is wrong with these peoples minds that they could not put down the phone or the whopper until they were out of the car? Why do some people just not care what happens to themselves or to others?

fastwalker 4 years, 11 months ago

hey andrew: why don't you put a sock up innit before you ride today? aren't you supposed to set an example as a staff member of the urinal?

FastEddie 4 years, 11 months ago

Riding a bike in this weather really isn't any harder than driving a car. Don't knock it until you have tried it.

fastwalker 4 years, 11 months ago

'i write this to make myself feel more important than i am.'

RoeDapple 4 years, 11 months ago

I do agree about the inattentive habits of all drivers, then this little tidbit jumped out at me;

"Then I thought about my most recent bike ride to work. I spent so much time trying to stay upright, I didn’t have much time to worry about the folks around me."

Andrew, we all owe it to each other to be as attentive to each other as we are to our own conveyance. If your mode of transport requires so much of your attention that you can't "worry" about those "folks" around you, then maybe they aren't so much the "idiots" in this particular case. But looking back over your blog, maybe that is the point you were trying to make...

ilovelucy 4 years, 11 months ago

You can always tell driver's that aren't from Kansas. They're idiots in this weather. I came upon a semi on 6th the other day that was stuck in a snowbank from overestimating a turn. What a dummy.

remember_username 4 years, 11 months ago

Someone said "riding a bike in this weather really isn't any harder than driving a car." While that might be true for some, but it's definitely not true for me - I have never once fallen down in my Jeep.

Really if cars are already the biggest risk to bicyclists normally what makes anyone think the risk is lowered in this weather. Surely the condition of the roads hampers the maneuverability of the cyclist as well. And the wind chill? On a bike? Anybody riding a bike in this weather has either a self destructive personality, or doesn't have any automobile owning friends.

blackfox 4 years, 11 months ago

Why should bikes even be allowed on the roads, un-less its for going to work or school? Recreation riding should be done on a trail or somewhere designated for bikes only! All forms of recreation have their certain areas. If bike riders can use roads to practice on, why cant cars drag race on city roads and be legal? These are my questions.

blackfox 4 years, 11 months ago

I am "cheery"! Just asking a question.

kufan8808 4 years, 11 months ago

Makes sense to me Black Fox. I always get so nervous when driving near a bike when not in these conditions. If I saw one in this weather first of all I would think "What the hell is that person thinking" I might even say something to the person. I never understood why Bikes could ride with cars on the street... If you get hit your as good as deadd and they can't keep up with traffic which just makes it annoying.

Even the best drivers can't always avoid disaster... especially with these crap road conditions. I know that I pay really close attention while driving on icy/snowy streets (no phones or whoppers) but if I slide there's little I can do to stop it. It's not like I want to. Also some poeples cars are better in ice and snow than others.

blackfox 4 years, 11 months ago

"powershopper" great point. Do bikes pay for tags and property tax like cars and trucks do? NO. So bottom line, they shouldnt be able to use the roads. Un-less they want to start paying taxes for having a bike.

flux 4 years, 11 months ago

People tend to point out their own flaws in others. BTW..its impossible to eat a whopper while you drive, too sloppy.

Kat Christian 4 years, 11 months ago

There are a lot of idiots driving out there that have no business having a driver's license.

mom_of_three 4 years, 11 months ago

sounds like a lot of people go some whiney in their cheerios this morning. I enjoy Andrew's blog. IF YOU DON"T LIKE IT, then don't read it. The article was about andrew noticing bad drivers while on his bike and feeling just as vulnerable as if he were on his bike.
personally, I wouldn't want to ride a bike in this weather. I have to force myself to get in my car to drive to work. It's so cold.

mae 4 years, 11 months ago

i really hate these bike blogs.

i can't wait for the weather to get better just so they can go get in our way on the roads instead of gumming up the news.

anyways, everyone has a right to blog, just please, please put something about bikes in the headline so i don't have to click it.

grimpeur 4 years, 11 months ago

Check the guy in the red Jeep posermobile doing about 45 mph north on ice-covered Mass in front of Dillon's yesterday a.m. Damn near wiped out as he approached the intersection. I would have been hard pressed to keep from laughing while rescuing them had they crashed. 4WD don't do a dang bit of good if you're a complete idiot. Which you clearly are.

Thanks for calling these idiots what they are. Looks like they've followed you over here.

blackfox 4 years, 11 months ago

Oh yes, but people that drive front wheel drive cars are JUST as stupid as people with 4wd. Heck, front wheel drive cars think they can go just as good as a 4wd. HA HA WRONG!

blackfox 4 years, 11 months ago

This blog needs to get back to talking about bikes, not 4wd vs front wheel or any other kind of driving.

puddleglum 4 years, 11 months ago

slow-moving import

c'mon andrew-there isn't such thing as a fast import, except in the movies.

the only people who buy/drive imports are foolish fools who give their money to same companies that built the zero fighters and val dive bombers which the imperial japanese navy used to attack and kill thousands of americans at pearl harbor. less than 80 years ago, how have people forgotten? Datsun, Mitsubishi, FUJI heavy industries (subaru), Nissan, Kubota, Hitatchi, Toyoda (Toyota), Nakajima, Kawanishi, Aichi, Yokosuka all made japanese Military products. very disrespectful.

daddax98 4 years, 11 months ago

that was funny! what is wrong with u people? "It’s a game I frequently play with my kids. If the weather is bad or threatening, I’ll ask their advice. If they advise well, I dismiss their contribution and take all the credit myself. If they advise poorly — if the storm never materializes, or the rain starts well after I would have returned home — I berate them mercilessly and engage in the kind of psychological torture that’s sure to earn them plenty of shrink couch time later in life." classic stuff

blackfox 4 years, 11 months ago

Evo, fastest car? Are you crazy? Lets see any of the imports, with twin turbo's and super chargers, go up against American Muscle minus all those bolt on's!

Leslie Swearingen 4 years, 11 months ago

Roe, now you apologize to Andrew. He definitely is not an idiot. Someone skewing all over the road and still yakking away on the phone? So focused on a hamburger you are blissed out and in another zone? Hardly, Andrews fault. Drivers, put down the phones and the food, be mindful, one thing at a time.

blackfox 4 years, 11 months ago

Will any of the cars you mentioned run in the high eights to low 9's in the 1/4 mile, driven to the track, and completley street legal? I doubt it? I am at the drag strip 8 months out of the year and hardly EVER see any of these so called "fastest cars" showing what they have.

blackfox 4 years, 11 months ago

Who cares what 0-60 times are? Real men meassure speed in the 1/4 mile. Oh thats right, real men dont drive imports! Wanna' be's drive imports! By the way, a EVO has a turbo! Guess you dont know your cars as well as you think you do. Yes, that is a bolt on in my book. Naturally aspirated is what real American muscle uses!

justthefacts 4 years, 11 months ago

I read all I needed to know when he admits to deliberately being mean to his own child.

blackfox 4 years, 11 months ago

I'm done. You really dont know what you are talking about. Go to a drag strip this summer and then we can have this conversation again. I know a camaro with a 454 that is street legal that runs low 9's. Drives it to the track and back home. No power adders! A natrual aspirated 454.

Now if you are strictly talking STOCK, then I need to re-group on this conversation.

blackfox 4 years, 11 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Satirical 4 years, 11 months ago

ralphralph... "But … I ARE one!"

Go Banana! (exclaimed as a banana races an apple and an orange down a school bus.)

puddleglum 4 years, 11 months ago

an evo?

get real.

my 87 grand national also has a turbo and runs 11.20 with street tires and pump gas. Has gone 10.50 with slicks.

so yeah, imports are sorry and slow.

powershopper (Anonymous) says…

puddlegum — You have obviously not heard of, or been behind the wheel of, a BMW, Mercedes or Audi. Or do you still harbor resentment towards the Germans for what they did in WWII?

yeah, that's right, the bmw plant made many an aircraft engine and mercedes and Porsche were knee deep in Nazi circles-so was most everyone else in germany. But they didn't sneak attack at pearl harbor, and most of there cars are slow also. there are exceptions, but you should expect that from the people that perfected rockets jets and MG42 machine guns.

boltzmann 4 years, 11 months ago

blackfox (Anonymous) says… "“powershopper” great point. Do bikes pay for tags and property tax like cars and trucks do? NO. So bottom line, they shouldnt be able to use the roads. Un-less they want to start paying taxes for having a bike."

So you are, I guess, one of those people under the incorrect assumptions that a) the majority of bike owners do not also own cars and b) the gas taxes and property/tag taxes pay completely for the transportation infrastructure that we have. Both of these assumptions are untrue. Most bike owners over the age of 16 also own a car and the cost to build and maintain roads exceeds significantly the amount taken by gas taxes and car property taxes/tag fees. So, therefore, if roads are only for motor vehicles, as you so arrogantly declare, then people who don't own cars would be paying for them without getting any benefit.

kansasmutt 4 years, 11 months ago

This could be a test of Darwins theory , at work. Ride and ? The way to see that only the best stock survive and repopulate our planet.

Christine Anderson 4 years, 11 months ago

Riding a bike with snow and ice on the streets?? Isn't it sort of the wrong season for that? Guess I never witnessed people riding bikes in the snow until I came down here, I'm more accustomed to a recreational vehicle on "skis" known as the snowmobile.

RoeDapple 4 years, 11 months ago

misplacedcheesehead, While in Wisconsin last February I loved watching the 'trains' of snowmobiles bar hopping by way of crossing lakes or following trails cut alongside the roads and highways, and even through the forests. While there one elderly couple lost one of their snowmobiles through the ice but she was able to get away from it before it sank. Whole different world up there, if it weren't for the summers being only a few days long I might consider moving there.

blackfox 4 years, 11 months ago

Again, bikes dont belong on roads! Period. Be it summer, fall , spring, or winter. UNLESS, you are riding to work or school, or is your ONLY form of transportation. NO RECREATION riding allowed.

ldvander 4 years, 11 months ago

The Whopper? The Phone? The Tailgater with face in the windshield? See, it's all too convenient for the story teller which makes this so non-believable. Come on!

ldvander 4 years, 11 months ago

Blackfox, Uh the Porsche GT? Street legal. Come on.

kansasmutt 4 years, 11 months ago

Boltzmann ) If i read what your saying, and understand it , than i dont need a tag or tax`s paid on a motorcycle as well ? I ride recreational and can go offroad with it if i so desire. Anyawy, i think bikes should be taged and taxed just like a car or motorcycle , if the owner is going to ride on the streets. I also feel if streets are snow covered, no bikes shoul be alowed on the streets, by law. After all, i dont think bikes should be on a street anyway, not in this area where we have no real bike lane routes that are complete and done right. To ride a bike in this area, on the street, is russian roulete with 6 bullets in the gun, your going to get a shot no matter how you look at it.

Leslie Swearingen 4 years, 11 months ago

ldvander Oh, it's believable. I was on the bus going down ninth street and in the car in front of us the driver was eating a sub. He was holding it with both hands and trying to steer with his elbows. He was swerving back and forth all over the street. The bus driver was mad and the passengers, yes there were passengers on the bus, were making bets as to who or what the driver would hit first.

blackfox 4 years, 11 months ago

"kansasmutt", thats the same thing I said. I fully agree with you. There needs to be some kind of regulations put on bikes of they are going to be ridden on streets and county roads. Period. Again, most of the bikes you see around lawrence and surrounding areas on any given Saturday or sunday are being ridden for recreation. All forms of recreation have designated places to do it. Bikes should also.

backyardwino 4 years, 11 months ago

Fortunately, blackfox, Kansas (and the rest of the 50) have laws that are in contention with your point of view. So no matter how strongly you feel that bikes should be banned from roads, your opinion doesn't matter. Have a nice day.

puddleglum 4 years, 11 months ago

starlight:

well, somebody needs to put me into my place, cause I still haven't come across an import that can hang with me before I hit second gear (ah-that includes suzuki and kawasaki)

"I pity small minds like yours. Imagine if all your ilk could get past their prejudice, hatred and bigotry. "

and imagine, you don't even know me. now tell me again, who is the one full of prejudice, hatred and bigotry?

Too bad you think owning the first datsun in town is neat. I wonder how all the sailors entombed in the sunken Arizona would feel about that?

I guess you must be a better christian than I am-you got that whole forgive and forget thing down.

Imagine a day when we start to import 'Jihad-brand' cars-then someone starts talking about how superior they are...what are they gonna do? hey, my car prays 10-times a day-whatchoogot?

boltzmann 4 years, 11 months ago

kansasmutt (Anonymous) says… "Boltzmann ) If i read what your saying, and understand it , than i dont need a tag or tax`s paid on a motorcycle as well ? I ride recreational and can go offroad with it if i so desire. Anyawy, i think bikes should be taged and taxed just like a car or motorcycle , if the owner is going to ride on the streets. I also feel if streets are snow covered, no bikes shoul be alowed on the streets, by law. After all, i dont think bikes should be on a street anyway, not in this area where we have no real bike lane routes that are complete and done right. To ride a bike in this area, on the street, is russian roulete with 6 bullets in the gun, your going to get a shot no matter how you look at it."

Obviously, you didn't really read what I said. I said nothing about motorcycles, but that omission does not imply that what I said does not apply to motorcycle riders as well. What I am saying is that as current laws stand, bicycles have just as much right to be on the road as you do. If you don't like the current laws then you are free to try to change them, but until then your opinion is just that and I expect you to follow the law and respect the rights of other people while you are behind the wheel (or on your motorcycle) - just as I expect bike riders to do the same for you. As someone who choses to commute to work with my bike (and also own a car for longer trips), I really get tired of the arrogance of people who falsely claim that bikes do not have the right to be on the road and try to justify it with claims such as that made by blackfox.

ldvander 4 years, 11 months ago

You are right, Irish. There are some really bad drivers. And I guess my biggest gripe would be the lack of turn signals round here. Nothing more infuriating. And if I were to venture a guess the non-use of the turn signal would be due to the driver being preoccupied with something else like a cell phone.

puddleglum 4 years, 11 months ago

small, tiny......surely you can do better than that.

starlight star bright.

whee.

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