Thursday, October 13, 2011

Expecting the Expected

I was on a group bike ride a few weeks ago. We were riding along, enjoying our Friday afternoon, decompressing, and taking in what was left of the daylight. As we approached a red signal, we all came to a stop in the middle of the lane, waiting for the light to turn green so we could proceed to the other side. As we waited for the light to change, a car turning left to head in the opposite direction yelled out to us. Everyone seemed to ignore it, or look a little perturbed. I glanced over at Sam, confused about what was happening. Shaking his head he said, "It takes all kinds."
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This only confused me more. "What?" I asked. "The woman," he said, "shouting out rude things to us." I couldn't help but laugh. I said, "She said, 'Great job! Keep it up!'"

This incident made me think that as bicycle riders we may be anticipating and even expecting motorists to be rude, say hateful things, or try to nudge us (or in some cases, full on push us) off the road. I couldn't help but wonder if, at times, perhaps we are creating a world in which we "expect the expected." Meaning that we so often see and experience bad behaviors on the road that it can cause us to think that every driver on the road is out to get us.

What do you think? Is it possible that we sometimes create an incident or make it a larger matter than it really is because we are so keenly aware of the possibilities and/or past experiences while riding?


  1. I've had people I know slow down beside me, or honk (please don't) and I've turned to yell at them only to be confronted by a friendly face. Last week I had a guy follow me and my daughter through a construction zone. We were putzing along for about half a mile and he followed slowly behind. When the lane opened up he pulled beside me, rolled down his window and I prepared for the onslaught. Instead he said: "She looks like she's having a blast!" I was almost speechless.

  2. The honking really freaks me out when I'm on my bike. I sometimes think there are just those people who honk at everyone they see that isn't in a car. I, too, have had those friendly honks though. I don't think they realize how it throws a cyclist off.

    It is an odd feeling when a car driver has something nice to say... and what a great experience to have your daughter on the back of your bike, and not experience one of those unpleasant interactions. Hopefully, you have many more of those good moments, and far fewer of what seems to be more typical interactions.

  3. ha i totally understand that. i've had cars slow down next to me and i'm glaring already, but then it turns out to be a friend saying hi or someone making a friendly comment about the weather or my bike. and it's just the influence of those 2 or 3 people who roll down their window to flip me off (often with kids in the car who are laughing hysterically, umm good role models, people).

  4. I try and be proactive in order to bypass the expected. I smile and nod my head in acknowledgment of nearby drivers. If someone slows and allows me to take my turn, I give a little wave. Usually, the gesture is returned.


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