Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Stop Honking at Me

I'm all about giving peace a chance and karmic happenings, so I do my best to try to behave in a way that I would want others to also follow and adhere to. While I realize we are all individuals and often times have our own version of what happens in an event, I feel that I need to go on a rant about cars and bicycles coexisting on the roads together in peace and harmony.

Today, I had an experience that is all too common for me when I take off on the bicycle to run errands into town, drop mail, or whatever task I may be performing via bike. I was preparing to pull out of the neighborhood onto the highway, and was waiting for all the cars turning left onto the highway to do so, so as to not disrupt their speed. I pulled out into the left hand center turn lane and waited for the westbound traffic to clear. Since it is a holiday week, this is a LONG wait sometimes. When it was as clear as it was going to get for me to jet across, I did so. When I arrived at the shoulder to head westbound with the car traffic, two jerk offs decided that it was necessary to blazingly honk their horns at me. And, thus began my 12 mile ride to drop a package at UPS.

Here is my issue: Why do people in cars feel the need to lay on their horns when you're on a bicycle? I get it, you don't want to slow down to 65 mph - you want to go 75 mph, but I have to get across the road, and until the city/county is willing to put the crosswalk and/or signal in, my choice is to either ride illegally against traffic to the first available signal (which is about 1/2 a mile down the highway), or to do the prairie dog dart across the busy highway. Please, you help me make the decision, because either way, people in their cars choose to honk like insane people at me. I wish that this was the only time that people honked at me on my bicycle, because I would probably just get over it, but it's not. I'm riding along in the "bike lane" (other wise known as the gutter/shoulder of the highway), and people just randomly decide to honk. What gives? If you think my bike is super cool and you want to let me know that (which, by the way, it is super cool, so I can understand why you'd want to say hi), please wait until you have passed me (so as to not scare the living bejeezies out of me), lightly tap your horn and/or wave out the window to me. I assure you, I will wave or give you a peace sign or make some sign of acknowledgment to you. However, honking because you just don't like the fact that I'm riding my bicycle on the highway is completely unacceptable. Beyond it being unnecessary, it often causes me to swerve. Do you really want me swerving into the road when you're going 70 mph and I'm going about 12 mph? Not to mention the fact that my mode of transportation weighs about 30 pounds, while yours weighs somewhere in the range of 4,000 pounds. I hate to point this out, but you will ALWAYS win the battle. You can go faster and you weigh more. I am just trying to get where I'm going alive. While you are busy bee-boppin' along to music in your car, talking away on your cell phone, stuffing your cheeseburger down your throat, and smoking, I just want to make it to my destination in one piece, and I have a lot more to look out for than you.

While you have all of your amenities (aka distractions) in the car, I am dealing with not pissing you off, avoiding getting hit by you, looking out for other cyclists and pedestrians, avoiding potholes, tree branches, rocks of varying size, ice (at least in the winter), broken glass, and all of the garbage that mostly comes from you travelers who chuck whatever suits your fancy out the window (like clothing, shoes, your KFC bucket, beer bottles, soda cans, phones, and so on). I just don't stand a chance if you don't at least try to cooperate. And while I'm on this subject, I am using hand signals to let you know where I am going so that you don't have a fit. Since so many seem to have forgotten what these signals are, I've provided a little cheat sheet here for you.

I assure you, I am using these signals for all of our benefit. I will admit, I rarely signal when I'm going to stop, but as a hint, I am going to stop everywhere you stop in a car (like stop signs, signals, passing trains, etc). I feel like I need to put a sign on me while I ride like those on the CDOT workers trucks that says, "Give me a BRAKE." I have nothing against cars. I have my own, and I do drive it, but I guess I'm just asking for some awareness and some consideration while we share the road. I know you can't miss me. I'm probably on the only chartreuse green bicycle with hot pink and baby blue accents in the area, so you really can't miss me. I would also like to remind you, that I do not have to ride in the gutter. State law provides for me to ride in a lane of traffic, so as much as I do ride all the way to the right, keep in mind I am doing this for safety purposes, not because the law says I need to ride out of the lanes of traffic.

While in town, I also often ride on the sidewalk. This is not an excuse to no longer look for me. When you're making a turn out of a parking lot, you need to look both ways, because quite often, I am riding on the sidewalk, because there isn't room for me to feel safe riding on the streets with you. LOOK BOTH WAYS. This is another basic lesson we learn in driver's training, but everyone seems to forget.

Above all, I just want to be able to have a peaceful ride without worrying about being run off the road by cars. If we can just learn to work together, I think it will make things easier for all. It's hard to be angry when riding, but I know it could be a lot more pleasant without all of the honking.


  1. Stop honking indeed. I'm sure it's all Deuche and different everywhere you go, San fran, LA, NY, Denver, etc. The problem is people, the problem is fuel, the problem is $$$, we are all in an enormous hurry to get somewhere, but where? It causes them to be ratards. "I'm in a hurry, and i don't care"... except if it snows, then i'm scared!" Awesome!

  2. It's a Colorado thing. I'd be riding my horse along 76th Street in Boulder to get to the neighborhood street where we could cut over ... and anyway idiots would think it was fun to get right alongside us and honk. I honestly think they were trying to scare my horse and see if I would be thrown. It didn't, and I wasn't, but there's a long history of honking for the fun of it in the Denver area. Boo.
    I just got back from a cycling trip in Italy. There they like to tap the horn to let you know they're there. Honestly though, I'm not wearing an iPod so I can hear the cars, if you're not driving an electric car you don't need to honk, I already know you're there. I better stop ranting.

  3. I love the rant (because I completely agree). I haven't figured out what it is the driver's think they're accomplishing, but I try to just let it go now.

    How exciting to take a cycling trip to Italy! I'm sure that was a wonderfully fabulous experience.


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