Thursday, January 26, 2006

Greetings and salutations...

I meant to include this in yesterday's musette, but I was pressed for time as Blogger was scheduling an outage and I had just minutes to finish that post.

We've all heard the traditional "Get off the road!" and "Get on the sidewalk!" from passing motorists. My personal favorite was the guy who called me a "F*#%@^* LIBERAL!" as I was riding home from work. In Oklahoma, them's fightin' words. He was right, of course, since I AM a liberal, and everyone knows that cyclists have less environmental impact, use less fossil fuel, and as a result, do not support using the government and the United States military to make the world a better, safer place for multi-national oil companies and those automakers who manufacture SUVs the size of a house. Conservatives, on the other hand...oh, wait...never mind. If I go into that the black helicopters will be hovering above the house again and the NSA will tap all my phones. I hate it when they do that.

A close runner up was the woman who called the cops because I was (gasp!) RIDING A BICYCLE ON THE ROAD! There are a surprising number of people who believe this is illegal. Worse, they'll offer us 'advice' on how we should ride - usually facing traffic - not knowing that's a suicidal maneuver. One guy told me I shouldn't ride until all the local roads had bikelanes. Fat chance. My bullshit detector was ringing loudly.

In this populist state, motorists would love to have bike lanes to get us pesky cyclists off the roads, but they'll NEVER vote to fund them. I've written about this before. Some of our utopian facilities advocates have a hard time with this idea, probably because it's reality-based. So if Oklahoma cyclists want to ride, they ride on the road. Some discover that it's actually comfortable and safe to do so, despite all the dire warnings from the facilities crowd. But I digress.

Yesterday, a passenger in a truck leaned out the window and yelled, "Go ride on a road that doesn't have f******* cars on it!" This despite the fact that there was no on-coming traffic and passing me was relatively easy. Maybe he's intends to start riding too, just to get another car off the road and show solidarity with us cyclists. And honestly, it would be good for my ego to ride past someone who's obviously overweight, red-faced, and struggling to pedal along in bib overalls. He may have been chagrined about being late for his night school welding class, but you really have to respect someone determined to better his lot in life. Regardless, I waved as he drove off, still red-faced and shouting something unintelligible. It's good to know that someone respects and appreciates us cyclists.

I could be wrong, of course. His comment will go down as one of the top three anyway.

But don't get the idea that all Oklahoma motorists are red-necked morons. Only SOME of them are, and they're a tiny percentage of the people I see every day. There are folks at the other end of the spectrum too, like Steve McCoy.

For months, a guy going north on Mingo Road would use the PA system in his car to yell a greeting each morning as he passed. "Good morning, bicycle guy!" I came to expect it and looked for his car. We waved. It's always pleasant to see someone friendly on the road. But I hadn't seen him for a few weeks until this morning.

As I approached the railroad tracks on the edge of town, a white-bearded guy leapt from his parked truck and sprinted to the roadside. "Good morning, bicycle guy!" he yelled.

I stopped and we did introductions. Steve works here at the maintenance base too, but he's just changed shifts. "I finally got off midnights", he said. And I told him I'd done 5 years on midnight shift too, and I was happy to leave it behind.

I won't see Steve in the mornings anymore, but it's good to know that there are people like him out on our roads.


Post a Comment

<< Home