We had a family birthday party last night and two different non-cyclists illuminated the car driver's point of view on cyclists for me:
- They HATE cyclists.
- Cyclists don't follow the rules.
Legal or not, if a car is scared to pass you and finally they have gotten by and are breathing a sigh of relief because they didn't run you over, how do you think they feel when you blithely right up past them at a stoplight so that they must try to pass you again?
Or, how about when a driver cannot pass because you are riding in the middle of the road talking to your bud Susie about what kind of nachos to get at the Taco Mac on the way home? Can you drive two abreast in a car and talk while you drive? Don't you honk at people who do that in your neighborhood?
Same thing with buzzing through stop signs. If the car must stop at a stop sign, so can you. I've done the Roswell Ride both ways and the "come-to-a-full-stop-and-put-one-foot-down" method was only 2 minutes slower than the "roll-through" method over 40 miles. That is nothing. Think of stop signs as a part of your interval training.
Doug thinks the whole "Share the Road" idea is part of the problem. He thinks it gives car drivers the idea that they are doing cyclists a favor by letting them use the car drivers' road. One of the family members above said as much to me last night and also pointed out that bicycles are not licensed and therefore don't pay taxes to maintain the roads. Extemporaneous speaking is not my strong suit, so I was stumped for a witty comeback to that ridiculous argument like "You mean the taxes that I already pay on my car?" Jeez.
But the hatred was palpable.
The one lady, who is admittedly not the best driver, wanted to know what she is supposed to do upon encountering a cyclist. She doesn't want to endanger herself by crossing the yellow line to pass and resents a cyclist "forcing" her to do it. When I pointed out that she could just slow down for a little while, she said "to 20 miles an hour?!?!??" like it was unthinkable.
That is the problem.
It is unthinkable for car drivers to slow down to the speed of a cyclist for any length of time.
That is why I'd like to live in Colorado, where it is not a weird thing to ride your bike and you aren't taking your life in your hands every time you do it.
I'm going to ride the ING half-marathon course today to get familiar with the course so I can be a wheelchair athlete escort on race day. Please nobody run over me.