Saturday, March 03, 2007

Weird courtesy...

I was stopped at a T intersection on my way home earlier this week, waiting for a car coming from my right. The driver had her left turn signal on. She was about to turn into the road I was on. I waited because she had the right of way, but she slowed and stopped, then motioned for me to pull out ahead of her. I did, but I was very nervous about it.

This happens occasionally. Motorists display exaggerated courtesy toward cyclists. I can only think that they're concerned about our safety, but when they disregard the rules of the road do to so, it's disconcerting for a cyclist. I really don't like to pull out in front of a car despite the driver's best intentions.

On the other hand, there are times when a strict adherence to the rules can be disconcerting too. Last night I was riding north along a two-lane road in a no-passing zone. Apparently, the woman behind me took that literally. She would not pass and traffic was backing up behind her. Someone started laying on the horn, but surprise, surprise, when we all reached the red light up ahead, they all behaved like adults. No one yelled. No one honked. It probably would have been different if the light had been green. Rude drivers have tons more courage when they can accelerate.

I've experienced the "cop effect" a few times recently, too. That happens when there's a patrol car in the immediate vicinity and every driver is aware of it. They're usually on their best behavior at such times. Unless, of course, the rude driver happens to BE a cop, like that fat county sheriff's deputy who pulled me over a while back. Honestly, if it hadn't been for the SUV, that guy wouldn't have moved at all.

I don't know what to do differently when a driver is extending weird courtesy. Like that one up above, I disliked pulling out in front of her car, but I can't think of any other action to indicate that she really should have gone ahead of me. Well, I guess I could stand there being stubbornly defiant, but then I'd look like a discourteous dick. Everyone knows that I take pride in having good manners and forego belching in nice restaurants or farting in elevators - mostly. I don't want to be rude.

Don't misunderstand me, though. I never hesitate to take the lane when conditions require it. That's not being arrogant or rude. That's being a safe, savvy bicycle commuter.



Blogger Dan said...

I worry about the other drivers in the area that did not see the overly courteous hand gesture (and that the self-appointed traffic cop did not notice) who may not agree that the right-of-way rules should be suspended for me. I will usually raise my palm and give a slight 'no' nod with my head (in a polite manner) to indicate that I don't need the special treatment, then find something to adjust on the bike (the cycle computer is always handy). The driver will continue on and world order is maintained.

5:24 AM  

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