Wednesday, October 28

Dark Faith

Lately, the darkness on the ride to work has been getting to me. It's sapped my riding faith. We're not quite done with DST, so it's dark nearly the whole 20 miles in. Near record October rainfall hasn't helped. This morning, I made a right turn to NB Davis Rd (a 7 lane road) in NRH, not far in front of a small traffic "wave."

I made my left turn signal to change lanes; expecting everyone to sweep by. You see, my long-sleeve shirt was a Navy color, and my shorts were dark as well. My full finger gloves weren't bright or reflective. Ditto for the helmet. Yes, I had two rear lights and my "be seen" headlight on, but none of those alert a motorist to upcoming maneuvers - and it was dark. Almost to my surprise, considering my somewhat glum frame of mind, not one, but TWO motorists (one behind in my lane and the other in the next lane to my left) slowed down and made it clear they were waiting and expecting me to make my lane change. Somehow, seeing those two drivers clearly adjust their intended actions to reflect the sight of a signaling cyclist, in dark clothing, in the dark, brought back my faith in traffic operating as a solid cooperative principle. They didn't have to do it. If they thought about it, they'd realize I had more lane changes to make before I could make my left turn and that might slow them down further as I worked my way over. They were being cooperative and nice, without being patronizing. I wish I could have done more than just a wave of thanks.

Sometimes, bike blogs harp on motorist incompetence or incivility. Mostly, though, when motorists understand what the cyclist in traffic wants to do, they'll almost always go out of their way to cooperate. Sometimes they forget that other traffic is expecting them to operate in a particular way and their consideration becomes misplaced (cyclists complain about that, too), but mostly it makes operating nicer. Drive friendly!

PS: Internet still broken...


Keri said...

It's those moments in the thick of traffic, when you stick out an arm to signal a turn... thinking about your plan B, but giving it a try... then everything clicks, they see you, they slow, they yield, they let you in, you wave a thanks, you feel good, they feel good.

And you know, it might be the most human interaction they have all day.

People are good. Most people. It's nice to remember that. Expect it, in fact. And it seems to work out that way. Most of the time.


Rat Trap Press said...

Now that you mention it, I hadn't considered how to make hand signals visible to motorists in the dark. I've got some reflective velcro straps that could be wrapped around my wrists for just such a situation. You've got me thinking about things like that now.

Filigree said...

That is a nice story, and cars have been pretty nice to me lately as well. I do not mind cycling in the dark and find it quite peaceful really. Of course a good lighting set-up is crucial, but once that is sorted I enjoy it.

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