Friday, November 27

Before Afghanistan Steve Got Run off the Road by a Car

In my last post, I compared ChipSeal to reporters chasing Nixon, which brought prompts me to recall a time that truly HAS a Nixon connection. You see, Steve got run off the road. We weren't in Afghanistan. We were in Vietnam. Nixon was about to take office and the nation was filled with the same sort of hope for him to bring us peace that it now harbors for Obama in Afghanistan.

In those days, Boy Scouts were one of the few sources for useful cycling education. This was BEFORE Forester wrote the Effective Cycling book. Those of us that wanted to earn "Cycling" Merit Badge had to wrap things up by a 50 mile ride, and I elected to make my own ride a trip around Seattle's Lake Washington. Fifty two miles, as I recall.

I'll leave for a future post my experiences with six flat tires that day, instead noting it was the last time I was run off the road by a motorist. The incident occurred between Renton and Bellevue. I wound up in the ditch. No, I wasn't actually hit, and I didn't get hurt, but it left me with a scary lesson that has not been forgotton over the years.

Many bemoan a lack of civility on the roads today. The date in the photo suggests that rude people are not a new development. It reminds me that getting "out of a motorist's way" should not be mistaken for courtesy. Courtesy towards motorists was the subject of the very first post on this blog. I experience and show courtesy from and towards motorists on a daily basis. It makes the trip more pleasant for all road users.

The Cycling Merit Badge experience provided a cycling foundation and lessons that have stayed with me ever since. A foundation that provided a basis for more recent learning, but still it was good enough to keep me from a lot of potential accidents over the years. If the motorist that ran me into the ditch was a Scout, he'd forgotten that a scout is COURTEOUS. HE sure wasn't. None of us should forget courtesy on the road should be something freely extended and accepted in the same spirit. It is NOT something extorted via an angry motorist honk expecting an open road as some sort of birth right.

It also suggests I was off a bit when, in bicycle school, I indicated I'd been riding for 40 years. It's just been 40 years since I fully realized that taking "manure" from motorists wasn't a good survival technique...

1 comment:

Justine Valinotti said...

Steve--You make a great point about courtesy. It's not, as you say, the reward for extortion: It's an extension of the Golden Rule!

I'm glad that you've managed to go four decades without being run off the road!

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