Saturday, July 26, 2008

Motorists and Cyclists, ch. 3

In which Our Hero is on the receiving end of a motorist's rude behavior, and foolishly responds in kind...

Yep, I'm a flawed human being... I let my anger get the best of me in a car/bike interaction yesterday, and it was dumb and pointless.

I was riding along that same stretch of road I keep writing about, in the morning, and by the time I got to my turn I had two or three cars behind me and no break in oncoming traffic to allow them to pass safely. And I was in the lane a) to keep someone from trying to squeeze by unsafely and b) prepare for my left turn. A minivan was right behind me, patiently waiting for me to navigate the situation and make my turn, but a car behind them started honking. Without taking the time to think or take a "yoga breath" I took my outstretched (for signaling) left arm and raised it high overhead in the proverbial one finger salute. I then completed my turn, and as traffic proceeded on the main road again, the same driver honked one more time in annoyance.

So, what did my gesture accomplish? Did is solve the immediate problem? Nah. And what do you think the honking motorist's response to it was... "Gosh, how rude of me to honk my horn at that cyclist... I must have upset him, because he's giving me the finger. I must never be so inconsiderate again!" Of course not... all my gesture probably did was make that driver think "That #$%^ing cyclist not only got in my way, but now he's flipping me off! They should be banned from the road!" And what of the innocent folk in the van behind me, or any other driver who saw it all, what do you think the odds are that I gained any sympathy for cyclists?

Sigh. Sometimes you have to stop and think, you know? Letting the other driver know he pissed me off might have given me a brief moment of satisfaction, but in the long run it probably did more harm than good.

Note to self... THINK... and take a deep breath. I've heard of some cyclist's responding to such situations with a friendly wave... maybe I'll try that next time. If I don't let adrenaline and testosterone get the best of me.

1 comment:

beth h said...

I have always suspected that it is much harder for big, strong men to resist the Urge To Flip than it is for women. Never mind the boy-mones, it's just the big-strong part and the mindset that sometimes goes along with it (I'm big and strong, who's gonna mess with me?").

I reacted in anger once after being cut off by a driver who was in a hurry, several years ago in Old Town. After coming within inches of hitting me, the driver saw me swear at him under my breath. He suddenly stopped the car in the middle of an intersection, bocking other traffic, and got out to chase after me with a baseball bat, screaming, "who YOU callin' an asshole?" He chased me on foot for three blocks, high on his own anger and whatever else, before I managed to lose him. All this happened at 8:30 on a Sunday morning.

Ever since then I have decided not to worry about looking "weak", and I have taken the path of lesser resistance.

For me at least, being smaller and perhaps a little less "tougher" certainly puts things in a different perspective. Especially the part about "It's a big world out there, and this is just ONE fool..." Which is what I tell myself when something stupid happens on the road. It's my own sort of Yoga Breath, for the gal who does not do yoga.

Be sure to pack along several of those Yoga Breaths in your hip pocket, and ride safely!