horns of wilmington's cow

By anth

Ride. By Night

You go away for a couple of weeks, come home and all of a sudden your commute home is in the pitch black. It won't really be long before the ride in the morning is the same. It always takes a while to get used to the night rides, but after a week or so, by which time I'm properly tuned in, I really come to enjoy the dark. You can get lost in it a bit, and I've found as long as I have a decent set of lights on I actually get a little bit more respect and space on the roads.

Although that didn't stop Mr BMW pulling out from a parking space on the opposite side of the road, with me half a mile from home, right in front of me meaning an application of the anchors with rather extreme prejudice. The shout of 'Oi!' and non-offensive gesticulation got the point over, I think. I temporarily abandoned my new method of dealing with poor driving, since it just wouldn't have worked here.

I've found being completely cheery and staring, with that fixed smile, works absolute wonders. Non-aggressive, it puts people slightly ill-at-ease, and you get a lot of that 'I'm-staring-straight-ahead-and-not-looking-at-you' tunnel vision that tells you they've definitely seen you and know they've done something stupid. If they look you just wave.

The wagging finger is quite good too. A woman on the school run who jumped a red light horrifically late this morning got that, with the smile. She was staring straight at me all the way. It's a sort of personal naming and shaming, and I think works better than aggression, which people expect, and people know how to react to - i.e. with further aggression. Gentle admonishment freaks people out.

Now I know (sadly) that there are cyclists out there who misbehave. But I'm also constantly told that people would have more respect if 'they' used lights, stopped at red lights, etc etc etc. The thing is, this is bollocks. I do everything that a cyclist is supposed to do (save wear a helmet when commuting, but the efficacy of a cycle helmet in that specific circumstance is up for debate more than people would realise) and yet I still get people cutting me up or pulling out on me. I still don't really see cycling as dangerous, and I still see cyclists' place as being on the road (ANYONE who suggests that there should be more cyclepaths to encourage cycling clearly hasn't considered the logistics of putting a cyclepath beside EVERY road - what are we supposed to do when the path ends otherwise? Plus, such reasoning is prevention rather than cure - make road users respect the rules of the road and each other and there is simply NO need for cyclepaths).

No, people don't treat cyclists well because they simply don't think they belong on the roads and don't see them as people. Getting in a car robs you of that 'connection' with people, and you merely see obstructions. Moving obstructions perhaps, but obstructions all the same, and 5 seconds lost, even if it's on the way to work, is simply too long.

Well I'm sorry. I'm a person. I fit into your narrow definition of how I should act as a cyclist. So grow up and develop a little humanity.

Thank you.

p.s. riding the Kaffenback just now since I still haven't fixed the Peacemaker's puncture. That's been waiting for some new tyres, an attempt to deliver those was made today, tempted to get up early to collect them from the sorting office...

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