Comments on life, the universe and everything from an aging Sixties survivor.

Location: Massachusetts, United States

Ummm, isn't "about me" part of the point of the blog?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Nice peoples

My friend Mass Marrier has been known to rant a little on bicycles. His comments are generally right, particularly when he speaks of two things: the purblind idiocy of most American public policy toward bicycles as transportation, not children's toys; and how the existence of anything human-powered on two wheels brings out the asshole in the majority of Massachusetts drivers.
(I wasn't born here either, so I don't think that asshole is very deeply buried.)

Now that I'm back on the bike for commuting, I've been reminded that there is another form of idiocy afflicting adults on bicycles: the nice people.

The obverse of the coin of disdain for cyclists is represented by the asshole effect. The nice people are the reverse. Like the assholes, the nice people assume that if you are on a bicycle you, not they, are lacking something in the upper storey. The nice people offer a new spin on Richard Ballantine's hypothesis that you on a bicycle are invisible to drivers. The nice people can see you, but they cannot figure you out. This is sometimes true of the assholes, too, but the assholes project and figure that if they don't have a clue, it's your fault. Being innocent of the law, the nice people think: "bicycle: mind of a ten-year-old. Treat the cyclist like a child."

At one point on my route, I leave a bike path and immediately execute a 90 degree turn right to get to the street crossing, then execute a 90 degree left. This slows one down, especially on fat tyres. The nice people, meanwhile, stop as soon as I exit the bike path. They hold up two lanes of traffic until I've completed my gymkhana maneuver and regain forward motion. The nice people certainly don't understand my scowl as I get underway.

Lest one think this is an argument against bike paths, much the same happens in traffic. When I want to make a left turn, I signal left, hog my lane, and put a foot down to stand if necessary. I expect... demand... that traffic in the opposite lane should keep moving until it's clear for me. Noo! The nice people arrive and stop dead as my bracing foot hits the ground, then don't understand that I don't exactly do 0-60 in 3.2 seconds.

I think I'll resort to a tactic that served me well in my younger cycling days: wait. You, nice person, have the right of way. I am a vehicle obligated by the laws of the Commonwealth to yield the right of way. I'll wait until hell freezes over to see if you get the point.

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