Monday, August 10, 2009

"You play by the rules!"

On my regular commuting ride this morning, I turned right from the western end of Lexington Road onto Baxter Avenue which, after a block, merges into E. Jefferson Street. Approaching this intersection from the southeast, I merged into the left lane to turn south. As I signaled a left turn and coasted slowly waiting for a green light, a motorist in the lane to my right turned to me and said, "You play by the rules! You're using your turn signal - that's great!" We shared friendly greetings and went on our respective ways when the light turned green.

Many (most?) motorists notice bicyclists and our behavior. They appreciate when we do the right thing. Motorists give me more friendly waves and "thank you" comments than horn blasts and angry gestures. I might arrive at work a minute later some mornings because I came to a complete stop rather than rolling a stop sign, or because I yielded to another driver or two rather than squeezing into the smallest possible opening when making a left turn or a right turn on red. Experiencing appreciation instead of hostility from fellow road users more than repays that minimal delay. If enough of us ride this way, we'll start to turn around the scofflaw image that besets bicyclists. A better image with motorists will remove big barriers in our work toward making our region a great place for bicycling.


Ricky Irvine said...

Yes, yes, yes! O, how it pains me to see cyclists stupidly drive right through red lights for ill-considered thoughts of freedom from traffic laws.

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scott black said...

Good post. It's refreshing to hear positive comments while out cycling. Something I always keep in mind while riding is "Ride like someone is watching you". Even when out on country roads and there is not another soul in sight, I stop at stop signs, signal correctly etc. I figure as soon as I don't do this, someone will pop around the corner and give me the usual "danged bicycle on the road" speech. I agree, that the more we practice responsible cycling the better off we all are.
As we all know, the car vs. bike/share the road debate is country wide, and there is no single solution. But by doing the simple things all the time, we may one day see less of the vicious comments in our local paper whenever they run a story related to cycling.

John Tackett said...

I live in Atlanta and had a motorist recently roll down her window and praise me for following the traffic laws and stopping at all the red lights. Motorist do notice when we follow the rules.