Friday, November 6, 2009

bike run-ins and the like

On my way to work, I witnessed a near run-in between a Range Rover type thing and a bike. The cyclist was on the through street running through campus and the Rover was turning right onto the street. The driver somehow over-looked the cyclist and started to turn in his (the cyclist's) path, but was stopped by the cyclist's yell. No-one was hurt but I'm sure the cyclist was jarred and the driver apologized. The cyclist then instigated a confrontation and expletives were hurled as the cyclist pedaled alongside the Rover for about 200 yards, taunting and goading the driver.
I've been nearly hit quite a number of times and I've been in the same position as the cyclist this morning. I have no doubt his reaction was largely fear based because what dork on a Specialized wants to take on a Range Rover? But I don't see what good can come from berating a driver to the point where he thinks all cyclists are asses that deserve any accidents they get. Couldn't that behavior easily result in escalating confrontations that end with drivers deliberately harming cyclists, like the Los Angeles physician stopping intentionally and suddenly in front of cyclists? Granted, not everyone will react quite as violently, but for moderate drivers the best thing we as cyclists could do is make our presence known in a good way.
After witnessing this morning's interaction, I hung back on my Nishiki and once the yelling cyclist had passed, I pedalled near the driver and told him that not all cyclists are angry and wished him a good day. It got me thinking, couldn't that be a way to increase the good interactions between cyclists and drivers? What if whenever there was a near run-in with a cyclist, instead of being showered with curses the driver was politely addressed "Hey, I know you didn't see me back there but please be on the look-out for bikes"? Fortunately for me, I don't have too many run-ins with drivers but I witness a number of them. I would like to make a business card with a little message to the effect of "bikes just want safe journey, keep an eye out for us" plus some well wishing and it could have a website with bike information listed. And some cute graphic. You know, to make it look nice. Then, whenever some driver has the near run-in with a cyclist, they could get some helpful information out of it instead of an antipathy towards bikers.
What do you think?

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