Posted by: mercieb | January 21, 2010

Who You Honking At?

I caught this link off a twitter feed… Dude! Who do you think you’re honking at?

Who are you honking at? from Keri Caffrey on Vimeo.

The driver is honking at a bike cop who is shooting a bike police training video (funny stuff when the cop stops in the middle of the road to ask the driver if everything is alright) and it got me thinking… There’s been a lot of discussion about bike vs. car lately. With cyclists getting mowed down at alarming rates, I have to say I’m a little disappointed in the overall attitudes of drivers. Tolerance seems to be in short supply and tensions are rising. What I’m not sure about is how someone gets to the point of thinking it’s ok to use their car as a means of expressing their frustration, stress, or anger? I just don’t get it.

In Orlando, apparently a bike has the right to take the lane if it is substandard width. In Washington, a cyclist has the right use the road in the way that he/she deems safe so long as they are following the rules of the road. Hence, taking the lane is a perfectly acceptable use of the road. I don’t think either of these explanations are very clear about what a bike can and cannot do but nowhere in the law does it say cyclists are responsible for themselves not being squished by some stupid driver who may or may not  know what laws are afforded to cyclists.

On the flip side, I have been on a couple of group road rides lately and, quite frankly, I was a little freaked out by the scenario. Maybe I’m getting old and paranoid but there were a few times when the group was not doing it’s best to be a good example of cyclists acting responsibly. Mostly it was a case of a few in the group not paying attention to their surroundings. It’s not that I think you have to cow to the driving world to stay alive on a bike but I certainly do think there is some common sense required on the part of the cyclist. There is nothing wrong with knowing when you are holding up a line of cars while you are riding 2 abreast (not illegal, by the way). I suppose you also can’t be too surprised when the cars honk, yell and flip you off when they finally get to go by. Self-preservation is what is important here. Being able to decide when taking the lane is the safer option over hugging the white line and being ready to dive into the ditch at any moment is a worthwhile skill in my book. Thousands of miles of bike touring have taught me a thing or two about sharing the road with cars.

All of those miles have led me to thinking about this whole thing as a group project. It’s in everybody’s best interest not to make things worse than they have to be. Then again, I’m a child of Flower Children and I happen to think most things are group projects. I can guarantee that drivers would still be pissed off even if there were no bikes on the road anywhere. They would just be lashing out at each other more often, which is definitely the safer option with both parties being surrounded by 2 tons of metal, but does not at all address why people are lashing out in the fist place. Misdirected energy used for evil and not good. We need to work on that.

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Responses

  1. Yeah – the hacked off driver scenario is an interesting one. Probably worthy of a few psycho analysis research projects anyway.

    You can take mild mannered Joe Account (sorry to stereotype), put him behind the wheel of a car and he turns into a lunatic, ’cause he has to slow down for 5 seconds before hitting the next red light.

    Just a wacky part of the “human condition” I guess.


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