One thing I did not mention in the account of Saturday’s ride was the buzzing we received from a driver in an El Camino. The event got me to thinking about the recent escalation of rhetoric from both cyclists and drivers. I realize there are some issues, but we really have it better than we sometimes think.
We had just turned onto a road after stopping at a stop sign to let some traffic by. After turning right we began to sort into a double line. Then came the simultaneous calls of “Car Back!” and “Car Up!”. In our group ride, that means everyone is to move into a single file line.
The majority of us had managed to get in the line but a couple of riders were still finding their gap when the car behind us throttled it and came flying around us. I could feel the draft from off the car as he came around. He reached the middle of our group just as the car coming toward us met him. It was a narrow squeeze!
An interesting perspective from a French rider who has joined us for several rides. He came up beside me. “Ah, one thing I am not used to in America is how slow the cars go.” He indicated that he meant the cars coming around riders. “In France…” he gestured emphatically at the El Camino speeding off into the distance, “that is France!” Maybe we Greenville riders have it better than we think we do.
Frankly, I prefer the guy who comes around fast to the car that just sits back there and you keep wondering if he will ever come around. Different people respond in different ways. It has been my experience that the vast majority of drivers and cyclists do try to coexist. There are those drivers who are mad at everyone – cyclists included. There are also those cyclists who ride with a chip on their shoulders. It is that minority that typically frames the debate.
We could live in Iowa where there are efforts from some citizens to ban riders from the rural roads. I don’t believe it will happen, but it does show that there are people out there willing to take action to attempt to free the roads of cyclists. At least for us it is merely complaining on the editorial page of The Greenville News.
Now this week we will find the roads even more active with cyclists. With the USA Cycling Professional Road Race Championship coming up this weekend, the roads around Paris Mountain will swell with cycling enthusiasts and and professional teams. While the word has been spread, I’m sure there will be many drivers who will find it a surprise.
I’m not here to preach at everyone about how we should treat each other. Personally, I think there will always be an uneasy relationship between cyclists and drivers – just as there are for drivers and bikers. However we do it, we’re going to have to learn to live together on roads.