Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday Rant: Don't Coddle Me

This week, I'm going to rant like Aretha. I want R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Not from my friends and family -- they think I'm a dork. And I doubt that I'll ever get the respect of my dog, since the Alpha in any relationship is obviously the one who picks up the other's poop and carries it around in a plastic bag like some kind of dork.

Hunh. Guess I am a dork.

No, I want respect from vehicles when I'm on my bike. I want them to treat me as if I was just another car.

Maybe it's too much to ask for that when they pass me, although the law is at least pretty clear on it. And I'm certainly not going to count on them watching out for me when they pull out into the road right in front of me. Really? Would you assume that I would happily slam on my brakes if I was a two-ton Ford F250?

I long ago reconciled myself to the plain fact that, when I'm on a bicycle in traffic, I am the 90-pound weakling on the beach of life. I don't regularly expect consideration and care from cars when they're trying to get to work or the mall or the bowling alley and I'm in their way. But I would like them to stop assuming that I am either an idiot or a scofflaw.

For those that have never heard the term "scofflaw" before, it's basically someone who breaks laws willy-nilly. For those that have never heard the term "willy-nilly," go ask your grandpa.

Damn, but I must be old.

Anyway, here's my rant to cars: Stop assuming that I don't know how to stop. When I get to the four-way stop, assume that I know how the rotation works (hint: yield to the vehicle on the right, even if that vehicle is a bicycle). When you're already at the stop, don't wait and wave me through. You had the right of way, so take it.

Actually, it's that whole "wave through" thing that often gets me. People are always waving me through intersections where I'm making a left turn, just assuming that the Hummer behind him isn't going to zip around and squash me flat. You two are the only ones at the light, and if you had treated me like a car you would have already gone and I could make my turn without breaking the law. Meanwhile, I slowed down to time my turn just so, and then stopped because that's what the law says to do, and four more cars have now come up and the Hummer honked so you went on, and now I'm not going to make it through the intersection for another five minutes.

I've had cars wave me through at yield signs, red lights, and into the "Exit Only" lane at Burger King ... and I didn't even want to eat at Burger King. Sure, they're just being nice, but there's a good chance that they could kill me with their kindness.

So, starting today I'm going to have a couple of signals of my own for drivers inviting me to break the law. First, I'll give them a nice friendly wave of my own, accompanied by a firm, negative shake of the head. If they insist, I'll give them a two-handed wave and an even more firm head-shake. If they still don't get it, I'll use that special one-handed wave -- the one that doesn't have the wave motion and only uses one finger.

That'll teach them not to be so damned nice.


  1. I, too, cannot stand the wave-through, often with traffic piling-up behind the waver-through person. Traffic that I can see is getting ticked off while the oblivious waver-through maintains their idiot smile, expecting me to cross in front of a line of 2-ton vehicles, any one of which could kill me. And all the while, as you noted, if the oblivious, simple-minded waver-through had just done what they should have done, they'd be long gone, and I would have gotten through before the line of traffic which is now giving me dirty looks, with some trying to figure out how to pass.

    Sometimes, though, I think it isn't just oblivious idiots thinking they are being nice to bicyclists. Instead, they are people that do not understand the "rules of the road", because they will do the same thing to other cars, and create traffic jams where none would have existed if they had just followed the protocol defined by the driving laws.

    I do the negative head shake, and vigorously wave the oblivious idiots through. I don't go to one-finger, I just get more emphatic in my wave. I've also put both feet on the ground, and crossed my arms while staring at the O.I.; that last has always worked.


    1. Excellent points! Maybe I'll try the crossed arms before the finger.