The Cyclist’s View

When drivers see bikes, they might see several things. Perhaps they see a fellow traveler who has the same right to the road they do. Maybe they see nothing more than guys wearing goofy looking outfits. Or perhaps it’s an annoying delay in traffic. The view could be of arrogant fools who hog the road while showing no respect for the law or their own safety. What drivers never will see when they look at cyclists, though, is a threat to the driver’s safety.

Not so the other way around. Consider a typical weekend of a typical rider in a typical town.

Saturday morning we had no run ins with cars, but everyone talked about an incident from earlier in the week. While finishing up one of the normal mid-week rides, a group heard the sound of a horn behind them. Several times. That was followed by the explosive sound of very loud exhaust as the vehicle sped up next to them. Window down, the driver cursed and screamed at the group. He then drove all of half a mile down the road before turning into a local gas station.

The group continued on their ride, but just a few miles later, the same truck pulls the same routine. This time several of the riders told him to pull over. He decided to do just that, cutting off the group on his way to the shoulder and slamming on his breaks immediately in front of them. The lead rider could not stop in time and hit the back of the truck so hard that his bike endoed into the tailgate, tacoing his rear tire.

No serious injuries, thankfully. The truck left the scene, post haste. Someone got a partial plate number. No word on whether the cops have found the guy.

Today we had an event free ride until the final ten miles. Just as the route re-enters town, there’s a spot where some people like to sprint. It’s fun, but it usually splits the group in two. That happened today. As the front group rolled down Grimmett Drive (an industrial area which becomes a ghost town on weekends), a large pickup nearly brushed the arm of one of the riders in the second group. Thinking charitably, the rider figured the guy just didn’t know the size of his own truck, or wasn’t paying attention. But the truck then moved back towards the middle of the road and when he reached the front group he swung into them, again nearly hitting several with his rear view mirrors. Then he rapidly accelerated down the road.

That wasn’t it, though. The rear group continued pedaling down Grimmett, doing around 20 mph. As they approached a side street – which had a stop sign – an 18 wheeler pulled up to Grimmett, looked right at the group and rolled through the stop directly into their path, forcing all of them to swerve onto the shoulder to avoid hitting the truck.

There’s a lot to say about all of this. Lots of questions to ask, especially about how people can possibly be such irrational assholes. I could tell a hundred more stories just like these. So could anyone who does any amount of riding. But all I want to say is that there is no equivalent way a biker can treat a car driver. We may be any number of things to you, but we are never the routine threat to your life that you are to ours.

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