To the cars who honk at me while I’m riding my bike, I have one question: what exactly are you trying to achieve when you honk? Do you think that I am going to go away when you honk at me? Do you think that I am going to move over to the right, into the crumbling pavement, pot holes and degrading drains? Are you hoping that tomorrow I won’t ride my bike on the same route so you don’t have to pass me?
OK, so that’s several question. So here’s my answer to you. When you honk at me, you make me jump and you scare me; if that’s your intention, then we probably don’t have a lot to say to each other. But maybe you don’t realize how scary that can be. When I ride, I am in a constant state of heightened senses. I am very aware that you are driving 2 tons of steel and I am riding 25 pounds of steel, aluminum and carbon fiber. Yes, I know it can be hard to pass at times and that can be frustrating. I do drive a car too, and I have been the frustrated driver in a hurry. But how much longer did it really take you to have to slow down to pass me? And look at it this way, I wasn’t another car ahead of you at the traffic light or taking your parking space somewhere. And I’m a good person really. I don’t ride my bike to annoy you. I don’t even just ride my bike to please myself. Believe it or not, it’s actually my transportation – as in, instead of my car. And I do all the right things: I follow traffic laws, I pull over when I can, I wear bright colors, I have a helmet, I never listen to my ipod, I pay my taxes, I even floss most days.
I wonder if you see my presence as a judgment somehow. Well, I don’t love big SUVs and pickup trucks, mostly because they can be a little scary as they drive by, but mostly I just want to be able to ride my bike in peace, for pleasure or function, without feeling hostility on the road. If you honk just to let me know you’re there, take it from me – I know. If I haven’t pulled in, there’s a reason (have you notice that the edge of the road isn’t all that smooth sometimes)?? There may be cyclists who are road hogs and people who ride who don’t follow traffic rules, but these are the exceptions rather than the rule. Just like with drivers, it takes all types and if people don’t follow the rules, they should be taken to task for it. Did you know that traffic infractions on your bike can be put against your driver’s license. As more and more people take to the road on other types of transport, we are going to have learn to share the road. As times go on, hopefully we will see more bike lanes will go in, but the reality in the ‘burbs where I am, we are just going to have to learn to share. Just like your mom and kindergarten teacher taught you.