“Hey, let’s be careful out there” Sgt. Phil Esterhaus Hill Street Blues 1981
– Montagues vs. Capulets
– Hatfields vs. McCoys
– Army vs. Navy
– Road Cyclists vs. Motorists
Every winter, the long standing feud goes dormant. Road cyclists become few and far between. During that time, the roads are dominated by cars. As the days get longer and the weather warmer, you start seeing the return of two-wheeled, human-powered vehicles onto the roads. While the swallows return to Capistrano are welcome, road cyclists are not given the same embrace. In fact, the treatment is closer to that of the Canade Goose, that a swallow.
Winter, as measured by the lack of cyclists, is around 4 – 5 months in duration. This is long enough for the average driver to reclaim dominance on the roads and forget what it is like to live in harmony with other road riding creatures. Then the first few cyclists return and dormant aggressive feelings start to return.
From a cyclist’s point of view, the first few rides are not ones that are remembered for fluidity and gracefulness. After months on the trainer, the balance is less than perfect. Combine that with the poor conditions of the road along with left over sand from previous snows and you have a cyclist who may be a little less predictable by a motorist than normal.
Over the past few days, I’ve already had a season worth of close calls. Most are due to simple preoccupation with all the issues of the world and not seeing the lycra clad rider in front. That I can live with. We need to retrain our brains to place cyclists onto the radar screen along with deer and other non-automobiles that may occupy asphalt. It’s the agressive, “You do not belong here attitude” that is already in full swing. Hard honks, speeding up to pass in order to take a hard right in front of my wheel, passing so close I can feel the side view mirror on the hairs of my arm. These are a little over the top.
This morning after another encounter, I came home to Good Morning America on the TV. The show was running a weekly segment where you use three words to make a statement about yourself or what you believe. You express yourself with a video. I will use a picture to share three words with you. I’ve added a fourth at the bottom.