Witnessing a Hallmark moment

This weekend, my wife and I met up with three bicycle-insect creatures. I knew we were in for a treat when the first peeled off through two lanes of traffic without signaling.

The other two were heading in the same direction we were. I had plenty of time to contemplate their spandex butts as they careened down the narrow road two abreast, taking up an entire traffic lane. They suddenly slowed down to kiss. It had all the charm of houseflies mating in mid-air. The one without the helmet veered into the other lane, causing traffic in the other direction to stop and preventing us from passing.

It was a Hallmark moment: He glided back and whispered something to her. She laughed. He patted her lower back. My wife and I were riveted to this little drama, forced to watch it unfold at 15 mph.

When I could finally pass safely, I mouthed a polite [obscenity] to let this young gentleman know how much I appreciated the show and his disregard for the rest of us. He flipped me the bird and I saluted him in return. We’d had our time together, and I was happy to say goodbye. But when we came to the stoplight at the end of the road, they caught up. The male leaned into my car window, breathing heavily and indignantly.

He was upset. I’d interrupted his perfect Sunday ride. I told him that I didn’t appreciate his unsafe behavior or being trapped behind him while he and his girlfriend smooched. He informed me, reciting statute and law, that he and his bug-mate had every right to ride two abreast in the narrow road. When I returned home, I felt compelled to check with the police.

“If they were impeding or blocking traffic in any way, they should have gone one after another,” the dispatcher said. “If an officer had seen this type of thing he would have had a word with them.”

I bicycle to work almost every day. If I was limping along with a line of cars behind me or wanted to gab to my wife, I’d pull over. Why? Because I’m an adult and understand that while the road might be my occasional playground, it’s also a public thoroughfare. If we want others to take us seriously, we have to act like grownups who understand this basic premise. As more of us turn to bicycling, I think it’s important to call road jerks to task. After all, they’re setting a bad image for all of us.

As I pulled away from this happy pair of smug bugs, the male gave me the finger again and the girl pantomimed a gorilla. I would have signed back something about petulant brats, but I couldn’t manage it safely while driving.

— Randy Moser
Asheville

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11 thoughts on “Witnessing a Hallmark moment

  1. jacquie Hammond

    We all have a responsibility to pay attention to what we are doing on the roads. Bikes are not exempt from this rule! Thank You for bringing this matter up, I also use the roads around Asheville for walking, biking and driving. Hostility has no place on the roads. Remember to act in a way that would make your mother proud. Jacquie West Asheville

  2. brebro

    Very true. Cyclists have enough drivers angry at them simply just for existing on the roads in the first place. The last thing they need is people on bicycles who don’t behave responsibly on the road encouraging the cars and trucks to hate them even more. Wear your helmet, ride single file and leave the frolicking for someplace where you are not amidst multi-ton missiles speeding past you.

    (Personally, I obey all the traffic laws on my bike, which is more than I can say for when I’m in my car.)

  3. dave

    And if i have to slow down to 10 mph behind some leasure rider on route 9 on a blind turn, i may have to call the police on them, too.

  4. Cheshire

    Good letter.
    Just like cars, there are courteous and crap cyclists.

    Dave: ease off the lead-foot. Remember, there’s no minimum speed limit unless you’re on the interstate. Everyone has their limits…some people can only pedal so fast. Don’t think so? Try it sometime.

  5. Alf Landon

    Clearly these people were knuckleheads and they deserve to be mocked and scorned. This does not mean that all cyclists are bad, however. Today, I saw cars racing down main street in Sylva. Does that mean that “cars are bad” or “all people who drive cars are bad.” Of course not. I’m all for calling out these people, just don’t extend it past these two.

  6. ncdude

    You know when you break it down every one was wrong. YOU were wrong for most likely passing a moving vehicle on a double yellow line (deny all you want its wrong and dangerous) and they were wrong for not allowing you the faster car to move around them. However as a cyclist i do know this…i have been pushed off the road and cussed at, hit with cans and beer bottles and if you think thats ok…then by god i will ride in the middle of the road just like i have every right in the world to do. Stupidity breeds stupidity, they were being stupid and you let them push you into being just as stupid if not more so, because you are in a car. Be the bigger man, keep your words and your fingers to yourself, they will get theirs, just dont give them an excuse to lay down in front of you so you get to pay for them to buy new bikes every year. Just some friendly advice…Just remember its not worth it…its just not.

  7. david

    Chesire:

    I find it incredibly dangerous to have to slow down to 10mph while a leisure biker ( i make the exception for people who appear to actually be going to work). To call me wishing to drive somewhere near the speed limit (my old truck doesnt ‘speed’) having a ‘lead foot’ is absurd.

    I ride a bike as well, but i have the common sense to not ride down route 9 in skimpy shorts for ‘exercise’. I ride my bike when i need to get somewhere, i get enough exercise from my job.

    I am tired of cyclists who think they are supposed to be catered to. Locals dont do this. New folks from “away” do this. They are the same ones who think the road belongs to them. That is hardly “Sharing the road”

    Take your bike somewhere safe. A country road with blind corners is certainly not the right place. I know of at least two people who have been killed on route 9 in the last few years because they were riding their bike.

  8. Cheshire

    If you’re not a leadfoot, you’re one of the rare ones in this county, judging by what I see daily on the road. Glad to hear it!

    Appearances can be misleading, even a saying to that effect: “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Just because someone’s wearing lycra doesn’t mean they’re not a commuter.

    Please tell me where you consider “safe”? There’s no such place because of the way the vast majority drive, and the sentiment of most drivers that “roads are for cars”. They’re not. They’re for everyone. It’s the law.
    By the way: I try to discourage roadhogging by anyone, regardless of vehicle. (That includes bicycles.) Just because you get enough exercise at your job doesn’t mean we all do. There is an obesity problem for a reason.

    Your post said “on a blind turn”. That’s one of the several conditions cyclists are ENCOURAGED to take the lane, by government-published literature and by law, for everyone’s safety. Would you rather they hug the white line while you pass them BLIND and then have to bail when you swerve into them to avoid an oncoming car…just because it was a blind curve? Come on. A moment’s inconvenience of slower speeds unti it’s safe to pass. A couple minutes aren’t going to kill you.

    “Locals”, “new folk”…seriously? We’re going with those worn-out stereotype labels? I prefer to quote the Muppets: “peoples is peoples.”

    Back to appearances may be decieving: I used to wear lycra every time I went out. Why? My commute was 70 miles round-trip, totalling 4-5 hours in the saddle. If I bent over backwards to cater to cars by wearing “normal commuter” clothes, I’d have one raw rear-end, to say the least.

    I’m much too familiar with the dangers of cycling…that danger primarily comes from impatient [car] drivers and reckless driving, road rage, and territoriality.

  9. Joe

    While riding two abreast may not be riding single-file, I migth remind that unless a motorist can remain fully in the lane AND provice a full 3 foot gap between his vehicle and the cyclist, he shouldn’t be sharing the lane with the cyclist anyway. The cyclists were not impeding traffic, they were traffic. They were not blocking the lane, the lane was theirs first. It is the responsibility of the approaching motorist to respect that and pass safely when possible. The Blog writer may claim he’s a cyclist, but clearly he has a me-first attitude in his car. And when others question whether cyclists belong on the road, remember that roads are public spaces: natural to pedestrrians and cyclists and cars are GUESTS upon public space, granted a privelege that can be revoked.

  10. dougmc

    david —
    Why do you make the exception for cyclists that appear to actually be going to work? Are they somehow more permitted to use the road than a cyclist who’s riding to the bar? Or to church? Or to his parole meeting? Or just for fun?

    And hopefully every time you hope in your car, you’re driving to work — otherwise, somebody else might not make an exception for you.

    Like it or not, in most cases, in most states, cyclists are permitted to ride in the road, right in the middle of the outside lane. And that’s very often the safest place for them to ride! And in most cases, they’re permitted to ride two abreast as well. (And really, two cyclists riding two abreast are still less wide than a car.) Not that it really matters — when you pass them, you’re supposed to get a safe distance from them — which generally means passing in the other lane, whether they’re riding two abreast or single file.

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