Tuesday, August 13, 2013
I just realized that I've been out of Seattle for 4 years now and I haven't shared any of my rural cycling experiences with this blog. I'm sorry about that, when I left, I promised to share my experiences with friends, but underestimated the magnitude of the event of moving one's family!
I have so many cycling stories, but I have one that stands out that seems uniquely rural, but could happen anywhere-
3 years ago, my cycling buddy Steve and I were out on a ride about 20 miles from home. It was March, and the weather was cold and dry, but threatening. We ignored the clouds (as any former native Puget Sounder would do). As we rolled along after a big hill, the clouds opened up and began dumping water - like monsoon dumping. A few minutes into the deluge, I flatted. We pulled off to the side of the road to fix my flat. As I struggled to open my saddle bag with numb fingers a car raced up, pulled over, and a lady ran out of her car with an umbrella and held it over us while we changed the flat.
It turned out that neither of us knew her, and she didn't try to sell us on any product, church or agenda, she was just helping out.
I thought I'd seen it all in the world of bike commuting, until yesterday I saw my first bike flop(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flop_(basketball)). Headed Eastbound on Pike St. approaching Broadway, I was biking 20 feet or so behind a guy in the margin between parked cars and a long line of cars in a traffic jam. A car ahead of him, without signaling, made a right turn to nose into an empty parking space. So the car cut off the cyclist, but the cyclist wasn't moving that fast and he seemed to have plenty of time to avoid being hit. But the cyclist ended up hitting the car's right rear door, and he exchanged heated words with the driver of the car. I slowed up and watched things play out. The cyclist eventually proceeded ahead to the light, and the woman parking seemed angry/flabbergasted. I don't really know if she did or didn't see the cyclist before turning her car. When I caught the cyclist at the the light I asked him if he was ok, and he said he was fine. He had seen the whole thing coming. He essentially wanted to teach the driver a dramatic lesson in bike awareness, and had done this same act before. I was kind of mystified by the whole thing, but glad that he wasn't really hurt. Others may see this differently, but my gut reaction was that "flopping" for the sake of teaching better driving habits does little to help cyclist safety. That said, I recall an incident about 15 years ago when I was attempting to make a right hand turn at a red light in my car, and was essentially blocking a crosswalk and not looking for pedestrians crossing from my right. A pedestrian came behind my car and pounded his fist loudly onto the trunk. He made his point. I was wrong. I have never ever blocked a crosswalk with my car since.