Thursday, April 22, 2010

Communication in traffic

Yesterday, I got honked at, (again) by a car (taxi) driver. Apparently, I deserved it, because I rode on the road and the car driver had to slow down slightly because there were other cars coming from the other direction and therefore she/he couldn't overtake me immediately. So he (yes, I strongly suspect it was a he) communicated his disapproval by honking long and fervently. I, in return, extended my arm, then my middle finger and held it in that position, long and fervently.

By the way, here's some interesting statistics of the makes/models of cars rude car drivers drive, in my experience, from this year (2010):

1) Volvo V70 (black) - 100%
2) -- (0%)
3) -- (0%)

Total number of incidents: 2

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Spring in the cycling shorts

Excellent. Spring has come, making bicycling fluent once again. It feels very rewarding, after months of slow, frustrating, vibrating, cold commuting on icy, unplowed, uneven roads, to take out the carbon fibre sports vehicle and fly down and up hills. I managed to do that on two days this week.

I think that persistent riding through the winter has been beneficial for the thigh muscle strength department, because there are hills that formerly felt challenging, but no longer can be considered "hills".

Then again, I've nearly forgotten what a longer bout of exercise in one sitting feels like. After going on just commuting the 7.5 km trip daily, for months, I wonder how a longer ride will turn out. I'll just have to try it out in the near future. Besides, two daily 20 minute bursts of tempo riding don't seem to burn calories very much. I haven't exactly ballooned, but my physique is not turning into more "climberesque" either. And, I really miss the pain in the legs that you get from riding for several hours at once.

In other (good) news, Bike Snob is releasing a book next week. I, for one, already pre-ordered.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Mostly rant


Warning: this blog post contains crude generalisation, exacerbation and attitudes. It does not conform to political correctness, instead it presents the world and its inhabitants as black and white. Beware.

Here are some popular misconceptions non-bicyclists seem to have about bicyclists. Some of these are, probably, sometimes, intentional, but mostly, I assume, that these are things that people just haven't properly thought about.

1) Bicyclists in traffic are stationary objects

Car drivers, especially, often seem to regard bicyclists as stationary obstacles. You can always bypass a bicyclist, even though you are about to turn right in about 30 m, because cars are fast, and bicycles are slow. Even though there's a 30 km/h speed limit.

In reality:
The speed of a bicyclist can exceed the speed limits in urban areas, hence bicyclists can be as fast or faster than cars.

2) Cars are more important than bicycles

Cars have an implicit right of way over bicycles, even though they might have told otherwise in traffic school. This is probably because cars are expensive and only kids, the elderly and poor people ride bicycles. This is most probably a view that few people would admit, but surprisingly many have rooted deep in their minds, i.e. an implicit opinion.

In reality:
Nobody has the right of way over the safety of someone else, regardless the price tag on the vehicle.

3) Car drivers always have to overtake bicyclists

When driving a car, you always have to overtake bicyclists. Even if you are about to turn right after about 30 m, and there's a 30 km/h speed limit, and the bicyclist in question is doing 40 km/h. It's just not possible to slow down, or even not to speed up, behind a cyclist. Because bicyclists are slow, and inferior, when compared to car drivers.

In reality:
You can overtake bicyclists just like you can overtake any other vehicle: only when it's safe and reasonable.

4) You can't go over the white line

When driving a car, and overtaking a bicyclist, you can't go over the white line in the middle of the road. And why should you; bicycles are very narrow and they go slow, in fact they might be considered something similar to still, inanimate cardboard cutouts, erected on the roadside for no reason a car driver can comprehend.

In reality:
Cars do not run on railroad tracks (except in the movie Back To The Future III). The car driver has the opportunity, and the responsibility, of operating the steering wheel and the brakes. You can speed up, slow down, turn, and overtake only when it's safe to do it.

5) Light traffic routes are safe

Cars don't go to light traffic routes, so they're safe. You can walk, push baby carriages, walk dogs, meander on your Sunday bicycle ride and do cartwheels across them like you were in an open meadow. There's no need to observe your surroundings, you can just close your eyes and ears and drift from side to side when advancing on a light traffic route. And besides, if there's somebody else there too, you'll notice them and have a lot of time to react because everyone else on the light traffic route moves at the speed of a paralyzed snail, anyway.

In reality:
Some (most?) bicyclists use bicycles as a means of transport, so they're going somewhere. Often, when you're going somewhere in particular, like to the place where you work, you want to do it as quickly as you can. Bicyclists are in a hurry too, and they move fast.

It's f**king dangerous to move unexpectedly from one side of the light traffic route to another without looking around, because there might be a bicyclist advancing behind you, just about to overtake, almost silently, at 40 km/h. That would sting. Bicyclists should know better than doing 40 km/h on a light traffic route, but just like car drivers, they are sometimes in a hurry, pissed off and stupid.

And keep your dog in order, too.


I don't know. I drive the car, too, but whenever I do that, I don't feel the need to defend my rights on the road, demonstratively. But whenever I ride the bike, I need to do just that, usually. It just feels like that bicycles are not considered equivalent to other vehicles here (are they considered that anywhere?).

<oh, some more rant>

Also, I'm a semi-vegetarian. Often, when going to restaurant with, say, co-workers, I'm forced to explain my choice of food because of that. You know, because everyone else chose the steak and I took the vegetarian spaghetti, or what have you. I really would like to not make a number out of it. I'd just like to eat, have a good time and get wherever I'm going to.

Just like bicycling. I'd just like equality.

</oh, some more rant>