Sunday, October 15, 2006

Saddle Sore of the Month?

Yes, I know I missed the Saddle Sore of the Month post for September. I didn't find anything especially egregious to award that coveted honor. Too bad.

But here's a good one from Alabama. Apparently, Ms. Mango is a Very Important Person who cannot be delayed even for a millisecond.

First, she complains about cyclists riding two abreast on a four-lane street. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but if there are two lanes in the same direction, isn't it easier to pass? But wait! There's a slow-moving vehicle ahead of her, so it's the CYCLISTS who are in the wrong. Then one of them had the temerity to signal - signal! - that he wanted to move left. Presumably this would mean he wanted to make a left turn, but our VIP was too pressed for time to bother with even a little courtesy and allow him to move. He then flipped her off. Tough shit.

If you wanna be a bitch, Karen, expect to be treated like that.

The second incident that riled her was a cyclist pulling a trailer "in the only westbound lane" and he was going slower than 40mph. Which meant that Ms. Mango had to slow down until it was safe to pass. This was obviously a hardship for her.

Like many motorists, Ms. Mango views cyclists with contempt. She's woefully ignorant of bicycling law and best practices, yet she doesn't allow that ignorance prevent her from offering gratuitous advice. She would be terrified of riding in traffic; therefore cycling must be extremely dangerous. She would gladly get us off the roads 'for our safety', of course (and for her own convenience of not having to slow down - something that's implied in her whiny-ass column)

She didn't own a car until she was 29 years old and she lived in a "big city" before moving to Huntsville. If she didn't own a car in the city, perhaps she’ll consider moving back there, give up her car, and make the roads a better place for Huntsville’s cyclists.

Oh, the bicycle riders you meet slowly pedaling on local streets
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Huntsville Times

The Saturday bike crowd drives to the supermarket parking lot, unloads its state-of-the-art two wheelers, and off they go.

I was driving behind Jed Clampett (not his real name), who was pulling a very old trailer with an even older truck.

Like the vehicles stacking up behind me in the left hand lane, I was dreaming of going slightly over the posted 55 mph speed limit, but in reality, was only burning fossil fuel at a stingy 40 mph.

In the right lane, in all their glory, was Spandex Man on his bicycle, riding alongside Lycra Dude. Apparently single-file-only applies to schoolchildren and automobiles.

Suddenly, Spandex Man decides he wants to make a left turn from the right hand lane. He does his fancy arm maneuver, and starts to make his move simultaneous with looking at his mirrors and before consulting his brain.

If he completed his desired action, he would have been implanted somewhere between the bumper and the side of my minivan.

I had a choice - speed up and ram Clampett's trailer, slam on my brakes and begin the insurance card exchange ritual with the driver behind me or keep driving. Spandex Man didn't agree with my decision, but waved anyway, except he forgot four of his fingers when doing it.

...This happened days after my encounter with Daredevil Dad.

He was on his Microsoft stock-option bicycle, with a baby chariot caddy attached. My guess is he had a toddler or a dozen bagels in there.

The odd thing was he was on Cecil Ashburn Drive. This is the road that meanders over the mountain between the Hampton Cove area and Jones Valley. It is the Coney Island Cyclone roller coaster of Huntsville.

Daredevil was cruising down the road, in the only westbound lane, with a child (or bagel) small enough to fit in the human trailer. He was not going as fast as my law-abiding 40 mph, so I had to put on the brakes....

I am sure bicycle enthusiasts are within the law to do what they do, but...

I didn't own a car until I was 29 years old, and only then when I married a man who had one. I lived in a big city...

I think bicycles are great recreation vehicles. I am not anti-bike. They are very popular in my family.

...I don't understand bicyclists putting their lives, and others who are watching out for them, at risks to share a dangerous or busy road with a car.

Karen Mango of Huntsville is a Times community columnist for 2006.


Blogger Fritz said...

Sounds like the driver who passed my wife over the weekend. She signalled left then moved left to position herself for the turn. At the intersection, Clueless Driver approaching from behind passes my wife to her left.

Then adding insult to the stupidity, an nearby eyewitness lambasts my wife for not obeying the rules of the road, when that's precisely what she was doing.

1:35 PM  
Blogger Ed W said...

Several times recently, I've had motorists pass just before I reach an intersection with a red light. They pass, then stop with their right turn signal blinking. Now, I very seldom pass on the right even though it's legal to do so in OK. When the light changes, they turn off the blinker and drive straight on.

Is it simple carelessness on the driver's part, or are they deliberately trying to prevent a pesky cyclist from passing and getting in front of them again? Dunno.

5:22 PM  
Blogger SueJ said...

It sounds like congestion would have prevented her from using that left lane (since she was already incredibly inconvenienced at having to drive below 55). I wonder about the lane width; my guess is that she couldn't have *safely* passed them one abreast if that were the case. Safety, though, is clearly not a priority.

1:08 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Wow! Until the end I thought this was a letter to the editor, not a columnist. She gets paid for this?

2:55 PM  
Blogger Ed W said...

She's a 'community columnist'. I suspect that's like our local paper's contributors, people who can write in complete sentences and remain coherent. They're not regular staff. They just write on local issues.

One of them wrote a couple of years ago that since so many cyclists get hit in intersections, they'd be 'safer' if they dismounted and pushed their bikes across the road. I suggested this would reduce motor vehicle crashes too, by making motorists get out and push their cars across. The idea was not well received.

9:24 AM  

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