This is an email that I sent to Louise. She had passed me in her car and unnecessarily honked at me while I rode home alone, in my legal part of the roadway, after a bike ride with some friends. To her surprise, I followed her to her house and stopped her in her driveway. The 20 minute conversation was surprisingly friendly. I thought it would be fun to share this with you all.
I want to say, “Thanks” for the civilized and pleasant chat that we had Saturday morning. I think it was good for both of us to be reminded that we share the roadways, and to that end, I think that it is helpful to adopt an attitude of respectful consideration of each other’s presence on the road.
Bicyclists are an increasing percentage of road users each year in the U.S, and this is only going to continue – look at Europe, for example, where bikes are used by all segments of the population for commuting, shopping and recreation. This is due in Europe, at least in part, to economic pressures related to the cost of transportion, and the U.S. is experiencing the same pressures. For this same reason, in many parts of Europe, bike trips are more numerous than trips taken in motor vehicles. Since you are in the travel business, I bet you have seen this with your own eyes. We car drivers – I am one, too - are simply going to have to coexist with bicycles in the city the same way my family respectfully accommodated tractors in the farm country where I grew up.
Since you expressed interest in bicycling for enjoyment, I could not more highly recommend visiting the Pony Shop www.ponyshop.com in Evanston, on Chicago south of Dempster Street. At the shop you will find attitude-free professionals who are equally happy to sell you a starter bike suitable for trails and trips to the store, or high-end racing machines like mine. Lou, the owner, is a personal friend, but the entire staff is friendly and knowledgeable. Good luck!
I would be happy to help you regarding bicycles or fun places to ride safely. Feel free to drop me a note anytime.
Nice seeing you again here on The Chainlink Gabe W. Hope to see you again next year.
Don't count on it! LOL
Damn, did I not edit in time? I added - but it's not there in the post now? - that your comment hits on something - I probably will be back in year or so - I am a cyclist. I commute around chicago by bike as well as car, I like to be part of a community, I like promoting safety and sharing the road, but every time I come here I'm made fun of and ridiculed and subject to snarky, sarcastic, responses indicating I'm not enough of a real cyclists. F that. It's so off-putting and detrimental to cycling advocacy. And it's all done with this "I'm doing good in this world" mindset which I find very ironic.
I'm also very handy (do all of my own bike and car repair) and had suggestions for the stolen rack thread, but figured I'd get replies like I did in here and kept my mouth shut. You guys are just that welcoming.
Funny enough, I just got an email from my dad that he went for a ride on the bike I rebuilt for him - my old trek 930 from high school. That bike took me all the way across MI - upper peninsula all the way back down - as well as to and from school every single day. Now it has beach cruiser bars with cork grips, an upright stem, cushy seat, slick tires....it's an awesome lazy day beach cruiser and commuter, especially with the suspension fork even if it's only one of the first rockshocks made. So there's one older, less than stellar driver, now using a bike. And I didn't have to pursue a stranger back to their home and promote my friends bike shop to do it. (btw, I live near the pony shop, have had friends who worked there, and have met with pretentiousness there, as I have at most every other bike shop except for Ron at RRB)
GabeW - well, I apologize if I came across badly. I don't like being misinterpreted.
Look - I have a couple of thoughts here. I don't advocate "confronting" drivers. I don't like to break the rules of the road, I play nice and all of that crap. I ride a lot - it's very zenful for me most of the time. I agree that it was a risky thing on my part to approach Louise. I waited quietly on her driveway for a few moments and she noticed and came out to me. That is not in the post. I was not angry or confrontational. The conversation would not have happened if either one of us was uncomfortable in any way. In short, it was a clear and rare opportunity for dialogue. Maybe it will never happen again.
I only wanted to say to her, that honking at a cyclist sometimes has the potential effect of creating a fear in the cyclist that the driver is not happy and might want to do something dangerous to intimidate or harm the cyclist. How many times do you have to be threatened before it becomes an automatic response? That can create a dangerous situation all to itself. I almost always wonder what the message is when I hear a car honking and often it is clearly agressive. To be in denial about that is a dangerous refusal to see reality in my opinion.
This could have backfired. But it didn't because I was respectful and the driver was receptive. That, folks, is what makes things better.
And BTW, she asked me for my advice. So, I gave it GabeW. I also don't appreciate being criticized for being helpful in my way.
Pretentiousness at an LBS? REALLY??? Say it isn't so...