You've got bells
I tucked this away back in April and forgot about it.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Dear Blue Honda Insight Driver,
I'm sorry we got off on the wrong foot this morning and had words. When you beeped at me, I assumed the worst and I apologize for giving you the "WTF" arm signal and stink-eye. I don't doubt that you are a cyclist and bicycle commuter too, but if so, you should have plenty of experience with drivers beeping their horn at you from behind. Sure you just wanted to warn me you were there because some people can't hear your hybrid coming, and I appreciate the concern for my safety, but you know as well as I do that a beeping horn almost always signifies a driver wanting a cyclist out of the way. Perhaps I am special, but I practice spatial awareness while riding, and I saw your headlights long before you were near me. And believe it or not, I really did hear your awesome hybrid approaching...
There was a comment after this post suggesting that hybrid vehicles should be equipped with bicycle bells as a more polite warning for cyclists and pedestrians. The more I think about it, the more I like the idea. But I wouldn't limit the application to hybrids. All motor vehicles should be equipped with bells.
Title 47 OS 12-401 (Oklahoma)
A. Every motor vehicle when operated upon a highway shall be equipped with a horn in good working order and capable of emitting sound audible under normal conditions from a distance of not less than two hundred (200) feet, but no horn or other warning device shall emit an unreasonably loud or harsh sound. The driver of a motor vehicle shall, when reasonably necessary to insure safe operation, give audible warning with a horn but shall not otherwise use such horn when upon a highway.
So a horn must be audible from at least 200 feet, but it cannot emit an “unreasonably loud or harsh sound.” Most cyclists have had a motorist blast a horn from close range, and to my way of thinking, that constitutes unreasonably loud or harsh. I once had an Owasso ambulance sound its air horn directly behind me. The driver was returning to the FD, not on an emergency call, so the air horn was entirely unwarranted. Did I immediately dive off the road in response to his blast? Of course not.
How would I have reacted if the ambulance had been equipped with a friendly bicycle bell? I probably would have waved him by. The road had no opposing traffic, so in my opinion he was being a dick by blasting the air horn. A bell is a less aggressive alternative.
Besides, there's something very appropriate about a Hummer making ding-a-ling noises.
The seemingly relentless wind let up last night. I think we had about 10 days of 20-30 mph wind out of the south with gusts over 40mph. The morning commute headwind wasn't as strong as the afternoon tailwind, but with temperatures in the 90s a tailwind wasn't always welcome. It felt like a sauna.
Like I said, it relented last night. We had thunderstorms and lots of rain. Some predictions call for 5 inches today and that's enough to cause flooding. I expect Mingo Road will be underwater this afternoon so I'll have to take the long way home. Oh, heaven forfend! Family and co-workers think I'm crazy for riding in the rain, but in all honesty, after the heat of the last couple of weeks some rain and cooler temperatures are much appreciated. It's supposed to be around 80F and raining when I leave this afternoon. I have the Centurion with its fenders and several plastic bags for my things. I'll be wet but not cold. The fenders keep the grunge factor down. What's not to love?
If you're going to commute by bike, get a set of fenders, or even a 'bad weather beater' for wet conditions.
One other thing – I had to remember that the ancient Universal mod. 68 sidepull brakes on the Centurion are severely compromised by wet weather as compared to the Tektro cantilevers on the Bianchi. These things do not want to stop when they're wet! Maybe that's not entirely bad because they can't lock up the wheel and cause a skid. Still, stopping distances are much, much longer.
Oklahoma's cross-state tour started Sunday. This year's route goes south to north through central Oklahoma, ending at the Kansas state line on Saturday. From the radar image, it looks as if the riders are under the same storm front we're experiencing in Tulsa.
I've lived in this state for more than 20 years, and I've never been on Freewheel. I'm basically a homebody, unaccustomed to being far away from family. Truthfully, I'd feel more than a little guilty taking a week away for myself. The kids have jobs and Mary isn't capable of riding, so I'd be on my own. It just strikes me as too selfish to take that time away from them. That's my own decision, of course. Others no doubt see it differently. I'm not implying that someone else who chooses to be off on a tour is being selfish. Far from it. I just wouldn't work for me.