Just freaking stop!
I could pretty much fill every MWBASS (Ed. note: There’s only been 2, including this one. Sad.) post with complaints about red light/stop sign runners, and I just might. Today’s incident wasn’t dramatic, but I did manage to yell at someone for not stopping. Then when they continued seemingly unfazed through the next intersection, I offered up an, “Enjoy getting hit, dumb****.” I normally wouldn’t say something referencing my indifference in someones being struck by a vehicle, or a flightless pedestrian but this rider pissed me off. A few intersections before, I stopped the main intersection of King and N Union in Old Town, Alexandria to let a car with the right of way go. They appreciated that I didn’t blow through like everyone else and waved with appreciation. Half a second later this lady does just that; blows by me and into the intersection forcing the driver to jam on their brakes. In a span of 5 seconds, a driver’s opinion of cyclists changed for the positive, only to have it dragged back down by some asshat.
So that got me thinking. Actually I think about this all the time, it just sounds good to say, “…that got me thinking.” when you’re trying to sound all introspective blogster. I used to blow through stoplights and stop signs all the time while living in DC. Became skilled enough to match up with the fastest messengers doing their runs. I did this all while riding fixed and brakeless.
So why am I so ardently against it now? Part of it I imagine, has something to do with finally allowing myself to grow up. Or at least thinking of others rather than just myself all the time. Don’t know if it’s because of the web and the mass of info available to us, or that the negativity toward cyclists truly is on the rise. But it seems like we’re hearing nothing but stories of how everyone hates cyclists and bikers and how we have no regard for the law. More disturbingly, we’re also hearing accounts of motorists increasingly willing to play with our lives by using their vehicles to teach us a lesson.
Why do we as cyclists feel privileged to not stop for lights/signs, or traffic laws in general? We all know we’re breaking the law no matter how insignificant we think it is. We retort using examples of vehicles performing rolling stops and how dangerous a one ton moving object is versus a harmless little bike. There’s a million he said/she said scenarios we can come up with yet do nothing to cool the hostilities between cars and bikes. One way I keep myself honest is to imagine my blowing a light might possibly send a motorist into an anti-cyclist road rage mode, taking it out on the next unsuspecting innocent victim they see on a bike. If that’s not enough, imagine that the person they hit is your child, spouse, parent, friend or coworker. When (and if) they catch the motorist you recognize the vehicle as the one you yelled at and flipped off. Then you realize you were the catalyst. That’s not a nice thing to think about, but it’s possible.
Choose to be the catalyst for positive relations. Riding in a predictable manner doesn’t mean running signs at every chance. It means obeying traffic laws and behaving as a car would. As a side effect, I’m actually more relaxed during my commutes when I stop at lights in line with other vehicles. I’m no longer looking for those little intersection traffic gaps where I can shoot into, expecting the motorist to give me space. It’s also WAY more gratifying yelling at someone doing something ridiculous when you’re lawfully in the right. Ride in a manner promoting safety and respect for your children, and spouses, and parents, and everyone else out there who just want to ride their bikes.
Pulled it out, and it was all rusty
And now for something completely different. Had to change my position on my Gunnar before the ride. Needed to shorten the cockpit a little bit which involved switching out seatposts. The Deda Black Stick is stupid light, but the layback puts my knees too far behind the pedal spindles. Pulled the Stick out and was horrified to find it covered in rust! Being that the Gunnar is steel, that is slightly alarming. I was under the assumption that all Gunnar/Waterford frames came pre-sprayed with Weigle’s Frame Saver. Guess I was wrong.