Monday, December 5

Bad Hair or Bad Bike Day

Passing a Loading Schoolbus While on WHEELS is Illegal. Passing One as a PEDESTRIAN is Perfectly Fine. Not All Drivers Understand This.
Actually, Probably not all Police Understand This. Fortunately, I Didn't See Any of the Latter Today.
Like a lot of things in life, not every day commuting on a bike is memorably positive. Today was such a day. I got frozen, honked at, yelled at, shorted, and cut. Well, some of these are not nearly so dramatic as they sound. First off, on the way to work, despite the encouraging words of our local weather forecasters, I ran into some "wintry mix." Such might not be notable to my loyal reader north of the Mason Dixon line, but it is cause for motorist madness around North Texas. The wintry mix left motorists that are normally benign a bit snippy. One such honked at me as I was in a left turn lane and the motorist was in the middle lane and not slowed down by me by as much as a single millisecond. I don't have any idea why a honk would have been considered appropriate other than some cyclists behave unpredictably. Hmm, on second thought, I can't imagine why a motorist would think that honking at a cyclist, operating predictably and legally OR OTHERWISE would be helped by such noise. Anyway, on to the yell.

Most of the way to work, I came upon a school bus that I often encounter on my v3 commute. I usually encounter this bus when it stops to pick up a handicapped student. Usually, I'll dismount from my bike, shoulder it, and legally walk past the bus before remounting and continuing on my way. It's an advantage of operating a vehicle that can be carried along. Today, however, I decided to simply stop behind the bus as my motoring companions must do (have YOU ever tried to carry a car on your shoulder?). You see, my goggles had fogged up a bit and I took the opportunity to rearrange everything. Unexpectedly, the bus driver yelled at me. At first, I wondered why until I realized she was trying to tell me to get on past. Erroneously, she thought it was fine for me to go and that I might be endangering myself in some way. After a couple of exchanges, I shrugged, shouldered the bike and walked past. Better to simply avoid conflict than to attempt to make a point that wouldn't be appreciated by anyone present. I think the driver was trying to be nice. Or encouraging. Who knows.

THEN, after this GRUELING morning commute, in contrast to the last week or so of half days and half vacation days, it transpired that I had to work an ENTIRE 8 hour day. I thought my fingers were going to turn into "bony fingers." Life is tough (though tomorrow, I'm taking the commenter advice from my last post and taking a full day off to make up for today). Full days are a situation not to be encouraged, at least when there's still 42 hours of "use it or lose it" vacation left.
Coffee Isn't Quite the Same When Syrup is Shorted
On the way home, as I often do, I stopped for coffee. Unfortunately, they were out of "sugar free mocha," so I was "shorted." THIS was the worst part of today's commute, though it was due to no ill intent by any person or corporation, whether part of the 1% or the 99%. SAD FACE!

To finish things off, I decided I needed a haircut and Buddy and I stopped by the haircut place next door. This is the same place I went with my wife's bike, and they allowed Buddy the same parking place of honor. While there, it occurred to me that "bike people" are less sensitive to prices of things like haircuts than are "car people." Somehow, a couple of extra bucks for a haircut seems a lot less important if you've got an extra half hour ride in the rain to save those couple of bucks than if you're simply burning a tenth of a gallon of gas. Maybe there's still hope for the human race...
Buddy Occupied this Spot Today. With no Kickstand, it Leaned Against the Wall. There was Some Sort of Aggie Propaganda There Today, Too.
For the Moment, Honk at Me if You Want to See the UW Huskies BEAT THE BAYLOR BEARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

5 comments:

Justine Valinotti said...

It seems that the driver misread you when you stopped.

I find that some of the more unpleasant exchanges I've had with drivers were caused by misunderstanding rather than hostility or aggression.

Well, at least you got your parking spot.

Steve A said...

Justine, I think you are EXACTLY correct. Actually, in retrospect, I think both the honker and the bus driver were attempting to be sweethearts. Honking at someone does seem to be an odd way to be "nice." Yelling is also an odd way to "encourage." In either case, I suspect the behavior is due to a lack of experience with cyclists operating as if they think they're part of traffic. In that way, I guess I'm part of the "1%."

Either way, I'd rather get abused a little on occasion than run afoul of THE SAFETY PYRAMID.

limom said...

I'm beginning to tell the difference between a honk and a full on doppler effect honk.
One is good, the other not so good.

cafiend said...

Around here I find it's easiest to stop and wait in proper legal fashion rather than do bus-o-cross by dismounting and carrying. By the time I worked my way past i wold just be remounting and wobbling away as they got moving and put me behind them again. Also, a sustained trackstand is a good way to give motorists something to think about while we're all waiting.

Some honkers are trying to be friendly. They don't realize the jarring effect it has on a bicyclist. Others are perfectly aware of it and do it to annoy. I show as little reaction as possible in any case. Yellers raise more mysteries. Some of them seem like they're trying to be encouraging. Not the ones who let loose with harsh, guttural screams next to my elbow, though.

Slippery surfaces place an ethical burden on the voluntary cyclist because two-wheelers are so much more vulnerable to the slithers. We may require more indulgence than usual from the four (or more) wheeled road user as we negotiate the frozen surface. Of course the motorist doesn't know if we have other transportation options. Some people seem angry when they are merely concerned about not causing anyone harm. If one did nick you they would probably feel a little bit of "see what you made me do?"

Trevor said...

I have found that all honking in the UK is aggression and in France it is just to let you know that they are going to pass you....

-Trevor

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