May I speak my mind for just a second? If you drive a car, this post is for you. I cannot tell you how many times in the last few weeks, as I've embraced #bikelife I have been placed in an unsafe position by a careless driver. Even just today, I was maybe 10 or 15 feet away from the line at a red stop light, in the right turn lane. Apparently the lady behind me had somewhere really important to get to, because rather than letting me get to the line and safely turn, she zoomed up behind me, cut me off, and made the right turn in front of me. In addition to being illegal in the state of Pennsylvania, and being horribly unsafe, it's horribly rude. People cut extremely close to me all the time, even though we have a 4 foot rule in Pa. It doesn't much matter, the police have no earthly idea how to enforce that law anyway.
Look, I know that I invite a certain amount of risk every time I slap on the helmet and go for a ride. Weird stuff happens all the time. Just yesterday an incredibly gifted rider had a dizzy spell, crashed into a ditch, and is looking at possibly being paralyzed. No fun. So I take every precaution I can, try to ride as safely as I can, and even yes, ride with a certain awareness that my presence is slowing other drivers down.
Here's my problem with drivers these days. The things that are the most dangerous to me, the actions that most frequently endanger my safety, happen because drivers absolutely cannot be slowed down for an extra 10-15 seconds. People pass close by to me all the time because they can't give me four feet with the oncoming traffic. The thought never crosses their head to wait an extra 10-15 seconds for the oncoming traffic to pass by, and then pass me. They can't be bothered. Distracted drivers are frequently that distracted because they absolutely have to respond to that e-mail or text message this instant. The people who get mad at me for being on a bicycle are mad because I'm slowing them down. Once again, I've done the math. I know how much I slow other drivers down. We're talking seconds, not minutes.
Are you really in that big of a rush?
Are you so late that my life is less important to you than being on time? Are you willing to risk a huge crash because you have to respond to that text immediately? Have you so convinced yourself that your huge SUV is safe, to the place where you don't much care what happens to people outside it? I hope not. Truth be told, I've been guilty of a few of these sins myself in the past. But spending this much time on bike has changed my perspective.
So my suggestion is to slow down, even when you don't see me or my fellow cyclists. Living in this big a rush cannot be good for anyone, right? If you want some perspective, hop on a bike and see what I mean. Not every driver does these things, that's for sure. But enough do that it makes me wonder. I'm going to keep riding, because it's something I believe in. It's something I enjoy. It's something that gives me life. I just don't want anyone's careless actions to literally take that life away, from me, or from anyone.
So no rush anymore, ok?