Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday Ramblings

Happy Friday! We've made it through another week, and since I'm in a bit of a tight spot for time today, I'm going to just throw out a couple of random thoughts instead of a cohesive post, so my apologies.
*Image found here
First, I wanted to follow up regarding the incident that took place with a car on the roadways a couple of weeks ago. In short, nothing will come of any of it. One of the local sergeants went to the car-owner's home and was told that she had let some people borrow her car and "didn't remember" who had it on that particular day [eye roll]. Unless I could definitively identify the driver, the case would just get thrown out of court. Because I only caught a view from the side and rear, obviously, that would be impossible. Although nothing will come of this particular incident, I hope that others will continue to report these types of moments in the future.

Of note in this process though, I will be adding to my list of things to be aware of in case of an altercation on the roads. Getting specifics/identifiable characteristics about the driver is pretty necessary it seems, as well as getting an officer involved immediately. While I tried to do that but gave up because of the long wait, the officer I spoke to recommended calling from a comfortable place rather than going into the department itself, as it is often easier to get a report done over the phone. Lesson learned.

One other thing that has been plaguing my mind over the last week or so is this: Is it out of line or inappropriate to tell a cyclist "good job" when riding or driving past him/her? I'll provide some examples and feel free to let me know your thoughts.
*Image found here
Yes, I chose this photo specifically - because it's a little uncomfortable/awkward.
In the first scenario, a male driver is passing a cyclist on the road. He honks, throws a "thumbs up" out the window and yells, "keep it up!" out the side of the car. Does it matter if the cyclist is male or female? Does it make a difference if the cyclist is overweight or not? Is this offensive, or should it be construed as genuine encouragement?

In the second scenario, a female cyclist is passing another cyclist on a road. As the female cyclist pedals by the slower cyclist the female yells out, "Good job!" and pedals on past. The cyclists don't know each other and they aren't involved in any kind of race or organized event. Does it seem presumptuous that the cyclist is doing the best s/he can?  Again, does it matter if the slower cyclist is male or female? Should we say anything to other cyclists as we pass other than "passing" or "on your left" or perhaps "good morning/afternoon/evening?"

I'd love to know what you all think about any of these thoughts that catch your fancy. Enjoy the long Labor Day weekend, and hopefully enjoy a leisurely, fun ride as well!

9 comments:

  1. Scenario #1 - I wouldn't do this regardless of the sex of the driver and/or cyclist. The problem here is the honking. Car horns sound much louder outside of the car than they do inside of it. A friend once tooted her horn at me while passing just to say "hello." I just about jumped out of my skin! There is also a gendered component here. Even if the motorist has nothing but good intentions, the fact is that women get hollered at by men in cars all the time and it is usually not with the best of intentions. At the quick pace that things happen on the road, good intentions are likely to get lost. Just don't do it.

    Scenario #2 is more complicated. I think if I saw someone several days in a row who was clearly new to the road and was working hard. I might give a "you're doing great!" as I passed. But even that feels a little weird. Maybe just a "Hello! Nice day!" is best.

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    1. Horns are incredibly loud when on a bicycle. I've had a friend do that to me as well and it always scares me out of my skin. After we had a brief chat about it later, she promised not to do it again. Now, if she's driving and sees me on the road, she just waves out the window or slows down if there's no one behind her to say hello.

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  2. Scenario #1: I've been on the receiving end, from one of a couple of workmen sitting in a van. I was clawing my way up a steep hill, very slowly, and the guy's tone of voice when he called out "keep going!" was obviously meant to be encouraging and maybe even a little awestruck. I didn't mind that at all!

    Scenario #2: I do it myself on rides I choose to go on that would have been a challenge in my first year of cycling. I do them usually to help out a friend who's organised it and is in need of a marshall/back marker. I used to be the one DYING on every hill, having a tear-streaked debate with myself over the merits of walking. A little friendly chat from someone along side who clearly didn't expect an answer was usually very welcome and indeed helpful as a distraction. Sometimes hearing "you're doing really well" is impossible to believe - other times, it's a tonic. A lot, again, is down to tone of voice. I try and 'pay back' when I see someone who is struggling but hasn't "given in" yet. So, yes, I do pull alongside and chat a bit and sometimes say things like "I've been following you... you've been doing great with your gears... keep it up". This kind of specific praise seems appreciated by riders who still have a little fortitude left even if it's hanging by a thread - seems to give them a little boost. Those who have already mentally thrown in the towel, even if still on their bike... well, not so much. I've become sensitive to that "aura" as I approach and have learned to keep my mouth shut.

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    1. I can see how your experience with scenario #1 could be actually pretty positive and motivating. I've had similar situations take place and I agree that sometimes it's just the push needed to finish things off.

      Again, with your second scenario explanation, I think this could be perceived or taken well by a cyclist too. As you point out in your comment below, when it's not an organized event nor someone that we see regularly, I'm not sure telling someone they're doing well is necessarily a great response. But, then again, I suppose it could depend on the person as well.

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  3. P.S.
    Scenario #2 - just remembered this is about strangers not on an organised ride. Never had someone say "well done" or equivalent to me while overtaken. "Hiya" is the usual greeting, if anything is said at all. But in the large group ride scenario I was describing above - while an encouraging comment may not seem so out-of-the-blue and thus strange -- I believe the context is even more fraught. Riders are often comparing themselves to others, worrying about being the slowest/weakest, feeling a mixture of self-doubt and frustration. In those circumstances, comments from others may fall on frayed nerves and may elicit a very emotional response. So even more "care" is needed by the commenter, I think.

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  4. I'm still kind of stuck for time at the moment, but I've enjoyed reading your replies. I promise I'll get deeper into your thoughts as soon as I can. I love reading different perspectives though - it's providing a bit of food for thought and I'll share a bit more about the personal incidents as well a bit later.

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  5. Scenario #2 - if someone who passed me just randomly said Good Job, I might take offense because it sounds like an assumption that I was struggling, or that I am bothered I am being passed. Some folks just like to roll along at a casual pace. I try to say things like Good Morning, or Great day for a ride, or I hate this hill! Or, if they have an unusual bike, like a brightly colored cruiser, I'll compliment them on their bike. But, sometimes, on your left, or Passing is just fine.
    Scenario 1 - I one had a driver shout out Good Job to me on a really steep hill. While I took it as a compliment, it scared me a bit, as i'm not used to drivers shouting at me.

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    1. I agree with you that a random stranger on a bicycle saying "good job" seems a bit offensive to me, and I agree that a little good morning or other similar comment when rolling by is completely sufficient.

      As for a driver shouting out the car, yes, I agree, it can definitely be off-putting and sometimes even a bit dangerous when it isn't expected.

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  6. I promised a few more details, so I'll throw them out here, just in case anyone happens back by and is interested.

    The car situation is one that has happened more and more frequently to me over this summer and I was merely curious to see what others would think. In my case (being a female), I have been on my bicycle and a car passes me with a male driver. It is a different car and driver every time. As the driver passes, he honks and throws a thumbs up out the window while saying something (often I can't understand at the rate of speed being traveled). I am all for encouraging people who need it, but I don't think that I look like I'm in need of this on most rides, and even if I did appear to be struggling, I'm not sure having a motorist do this is the wisest decision. If the cyclist is startled, it could easily throw him/her off balance. Additionally, there could be some assumption of leering etc. In my case, I have a habit of assuming that the individual is trying to make fun of me or is in some way mocking me - whether or not that is actually the case.

    As for the second scenario, I was out riding a couple of weeks ago and I was on the Hillborne. I wasn't in a hurry and had my camera with me to take some photos. I was out on one of the highways at one point that a lot of cyclists ride and a group of three women passed me. The first one that went by said, "Good job" as she pedaled passed while the other two said "good morning" and "passing." As they went by, I couldn't help but wonder about the "good job" comment. It just seemed unnecessary and a bit condescending to me. After all, she had no idea what I was doing that day, how fast I normally ride, or what I normally ride. Whether her intention was positive or not, it just reminded me that unless I'm participating in a really hard race with others, there's probably no reason to say anything other than the comments that have been pointed out above such as, "good morning/afternoon," "great day for a ride," "passing," "on your left," and so on.

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