Sunday, August 16, 2015

Two wheels good

Hey Motorists:

I am trying not to hate you, but you're making it difficult.  If one more of you decides to turn without signaling or to stop without actually stopping, I may scream louder than I already do when out on the road.  -not like you care, anyway.  Before you motorists start yammering about how cyclists are a scourge and should be put down for speeding through red lights and such, save it for someone who actually doesn't follow road rules.  I confound motorists with my uncanny ability to obey the law.  They often try to wave me through intersections after I've lawfully stopped, trying to cede their right-of-way, I guess.  Putting at least one foot on the ground as a visual clue that I'm respecting the stop sign posted to my immediate right is either lost on them, or they just don't care and want it their way.  Arms waving at me to proceed through the intersection, and, potentially into the path of an oncoming car, is met with a shake of the head.  I sometimes mouth, 'I have a stop sign' to further the point.

Not owning an automobile has meant that my primary mode of transport is a bicycle.  Being sans four wheels in a place that isn't set-up with stellar public transport means that I'm often not traveling too far from home.  However, I do like to get out of my immediate surroundings, and so I bike to the Bay Area's suburban rail, aka Bart, for trips to the city and beyond.  The trip to Bart includes traversing eight miles' worth of road, only some of it kitted out with bike lanes.

Two nights ago, I met up with my local German club (five mile bike ride, one way) for suds and schwatz.  One of the other members, R., asked what route I took to get to our meeting spot.  I told him that I try to take roads that are less congested with cars & rattled off some street names.  He said that he always takes the 'scenic route', so as to avoid maximum contact with motorists.  Then he mentioned an accident he'd gotten into years ago where he'd somehow wound up on a car hood.  He capped off his story by saying that he'd needed three years to fully recover and that he (miraculously) still rides, but is super, extra cautious these days.

His story was playing in my head as I rode home from Redwood City this afternoon.  It was already 'commute time' at 4.30 and the roads were jammed.  Impossibly long lights made for impatient drivers who ran red lights and got their cars stuck in the middle of intersections in effort to get wherever it is they're going just that much quicker.  I choose my usual route, a wide street with generous bike lane.  Giant, four-door trucks with tires almost as tall as I am were out in full force and the size and noise coming from them started to freak me out as they went by.  My palms got a bit sweaty while pedaling along and I could not wait to turn off onto the bike bridge and just get the eff away from the monster truck show.  I hope I don't become so incapacitated by fear that I give up riding along the peninsula.  I also very much hope that we, cyclists and motorists alike, continue to be mostly mindful when out on the streets and follow the rules, so that no one gets hurt.  Fingers crossed!

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