I know it sucks being the one that doesn’t belong. You’re neither a car nor a pedestrian. Heck, you ain’t even a motorcycle. You exist in the gray area of transportation, but that doesn’t mean the rules you have to follow are ambiguous.
As a pedestrian, I often feel the right to walk whenever I please. I don’t mean jaywalking (although cutting across any space diagonally does feel both efficient and respectful to Pythagoras), but rather strolling through crosswalks and parking lots without looking, or worse, walking while ‘knowing’ the car approaching will stop for me. It’s an intuition our generation has been graced with.
And yet, as a driver, I don’t hesitate to unleash my rage upon pedestrians. Why do you think I should stop for you? Why do you insist on walking blindly and slowly whenever you please? Who do you think you are? (Me?)
As an amateur cyclist, I embody the worst attributes and contradictions of both classes; I act like a pedestrian with cars, and a car with pedestrians. It’s really quite an expletive-filled experience. One minute I am genuinely upset and unnerved because a car didn’t stop for me. The next, some truly outrageous obscenities I wasn’t even aware I knew burst through my lips when I had to stop for a pedestrian.
So trust me when I say this, my dear amateur cyclist: I understand you. However, it’s time to face the facts. You are a vehicle, not a pedestrian. So don’t expect people to stop for you at an intersection. Don’t ride through a crowd on the sidewalk while silently cursing over their snail pace, even if they really are walking at the speed of senior citizens.
Don’t have a conversation with your friend while biking. You’re not good at riding in a straight line normally, so why do you think it’ll get any better when you’re laughing at your friend’s joke? (Although, I must applaud your optimism.)
Learn to signal. Most drivers are not telepaths. Now this may be surprising, a lack of telepathy skills means they do not know which way you are going to turn.
Today I’m writing to you as both a pedestrian and a driver, on behalf of all amateur cyclists. Relish in the fact that the next time I ride my bike I still won’t know the signals. I’ll still ride on the sidewalks occasionally because, truth be told, cars scare me. And I still might end up scaring even myself with the obscenities that I come up with when plowing through the snail-paced folk.
But at the end of the day, I like to think of this messy transition onto the road, into the gray area of transportation, as a rite of passage. I may stumble with the rules, but I have the best of intentions to follow them one day. So, fellow amateur cyclists, please just try to do the same. For me?
One of you,
Not-the-next-Lance-Armstrong (with or without doping)