Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Ships that pass in the morning, and speak each other in passing

Last night, Dottie from Let's Go Ride a Bike recounted her story of a brief but unpleasant interaction with a fellow cyclist she encountered on her morning commute.  While she didn't explicitly describe this passive-aggressive fellow, for better or for worse, my mind immediately supplied the following image:
Thank you, Merriam-Webster Visual Dictionary Online.

Oh, this guy.  Can't we all just get along? 

But it's not all bad news out there.  See, I ran into him, too, on my way home this morning.  Since I was coming from the gym and my legs were exhausted, I was pedaling even more slowly than usually up the barely existent hill that leads to my house.  This guy was coming down the hill the opposite way (of course, not coasting!) and I caught him looking over at me as we got closer.  He opened his mouth to say something, and with Dottie's story fresh in my helmetless head, I was bracing myself for some kind of disparaging remark.  So what did he say as he zoomed by in all his speedracey glory? 

"Nice bike!"

Oh Frida.  Is there a man alive who can resist your charms?


Anonymous said...


Velouria said...

I know people tend to complain about roadies, but more often than not they have been nice to me and to my bikes, as well as courteous on the road and trails. The cyclists I tend to have problematic interactions with, I don't even know how to categorise exactly. They basically seem like experienced commuters who have nonetheless managed to remain clueless about road rules: passing on the right, running reds, cutting me off when making a turn, that sort of stuff - but, thankfully they are wearing that helmet and neon thingie-majig while doing it.

Anonymous said...

@Velouria: In Portland, it seems like that kind of behavior comes most from "veterans" who have been riding bikes in the city since the dawn of time, and who are just recently experiencing what it's like to have other cyclists on the road with them. For them, it seems to be a tough trick to learn, and I've been yelled at more than once ( seemingly for doing nothing other than being on the road with them.

I usually don't get many comments from "roadies," but I do sometimes get disdainful glances :)

margonaute said...

Velouria: I actually can't say I've had any negative interactions with roadies either. I think that whatever tinge of negativity my mind associates with them is more of a holdover from the fact that they helped to create an image of cycling in my mind as something super athletic that required a lot of specialized gear and skill, and that contributed to my not buying a bike for so long. The cyclists who really bother me in real life are mostly the ones who ride the wrong way down the street-- just *so dangerous* for everyone involved.

Herzog said...

I don't get why "bike salmon" get so much hate. Sure it's really annoying when a cyclist is going the wrong way, but is it really any more dangerous than a car blocking the bike lane, or any one of a thousand other hazards?

I still get irritated when I see a cyclist going the wrong way, but I think it's irrational. I just slow down a bit, do a "shoulder check" and move over to the left. Just like I would for a stopped car or something.

margonaute said...

Herzog: My particular antipathy for bike salmon comes from having had a few close calls because of one showing up so unpredictably going the wrong way in a bike lane on a 2-way street. It bothers me less when they're coming on the wrong way on the other side of, say, a 1-way street because then they're not in my immediate path if I'm cycling and they're slightly more visible to cars than if they were coming down the other side. The worst near accident was when I was driving a car recently, turning right out of a lot past on-street parking that was making it hard to see what was coming up the hill from the left. I was making extra efforts to check for cyclists approaching in the bike lane and was about to go when everything was clear, when all of a sudden a guy came zooming down the bike lane *from my right*. Obviously, you should always check both ways even if no one is supposed to be coming from the right, but it was an uncomfortably close call that seemed so unnecessarily dangerous because there was a bike lane on the other side of the street! You know, the one that was going the right way?! There was zero reason to be riding against traffic there. It's a little bit like when American tourists get hit by cars in England because they weren't checking the right side of the street-- when you are trained to look one direction because that is the expected legal direction of traffic, things coming the other way can literally blind side you. (And actually, that almost happened to me when crossing the street as a pedestrian, too: look to my left, okay; but whoa, here comes something from the right?!) The details are fuzzier for me on the other big close call, which was when I was riding my bike; but I do remember having a mini heart attack from narrowly avoiding a collision with a "salmon", who was again coming the wrong way in a bike lane at an already tricky intersection where it was stressful enough just trying to negotiate the automobile traffic.

So yeah, it is just one of many irresponsible and hazardous things you encounter on the road, but I find it a particularly unnecessary danger. I mean, why make it that much harder for everyone-- cars, cyclists, pedestrians-- to predict where you're going to be? It's hard enough already to make sure cars in particular know where to look for bikes, and then to throw in that extra wild card---- I just hate it. It is my #1 personal pet peeve when it comes to cycling.

Herzog said...

Okay, totally agree with everything that you wrote. The only thing I'd add though, is that *sometimes* salmon are less likely to be doored.

margonaute said...

I almost got hit by another one today while I was stepping off a curb to cross a one-way street!! I'm going to start calling them "Brits"... or maybe "limeys", though no one will no what I'm talking about. But it's so like that-- getting hit because you're looking the "wrong" way.

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