Sorry, no cute photos or links to videos here: just a serious rant about the deteriorating situation that exists for cyclists who refuse to give up their right to share the road.
There’s been a lot of social media attention brought to bear on a few motorists who have taken to Social Media and YouTube to express their disdain for cyclists. I featured one such case from Alabama in a recent blog entry and there have been at least two or three other “prominent” social media uprisings aimed at a ditzy chick from California who was also a reserve police officer who expressed her desire to “run down” cyclists, a city mayor from some small city out west who got in to an on-road dispute with a seasoned cyclist racer, a couple of kids in a big Dodge Ram diesel pick-up on PCH out in Orange County California and of course very close to home we had a long-time friend who was truly assaulted with deadly intent by a motorist who used their SUV as a weapon to run down our friend after a verbal altercation.
As truly bad and un-defendable as these actions and statements are just on face value — really, you want to run-down another human being because they impeded your progress in a 4,000 lb vehicle for 20 seconds? — the larger issue is that motorist skills have simply eroded to the point where a large percentage of people behind the wheel of cars have no business being there.
Seriously, the poor judgement I see exhibited by motorists on a daily basis while driving, riding my motorcycles or cycling is mind-boggling. I really don’t worry so much about being run-down by a motorist who simply hates cyclists — Good Lord, Why? Please, oh please share your insights on that with me so that I can understand… as it truly seems to be on par with why religious extremists hate people who subscribe to a different belief system — as I do about the people sitting behind the wheel of a car who have 90% of their attention focused on something other than driving.
On yesterday’s tandem ride, we were cycling side-by-side with Randy & Claudia Rowe on our way back into Taylorsville about 40 miles into our 44 mile ride on a slightly hilly and curvy section of road when a beat-up green Ford Crown Victoria following a late-model car far too closely crossed the center line and began to bear down on Randy & Claudia. Thankfully, the inattentive careless and reckless motorist — with his oh-so obvious Mac iPhone or iPod white ear phones plugged in, and whose complete attention was focused down near the bottom of the steering wheel were he was most likely holding his phone or iPod — had his window down and it was only Randy’s outcry of ‘HEY’ that made him look up and quickly steer his car back into his own lane that kept us from having a disaster on our hands. Yes, time truly does slow down when disaster strikes: I can clearly recall that much detail.
On today’s ride I had a careless and reckless motorist driving a silver Toyota Landcruiser pass us within 50′ of a stop sign, clearly cutting us off so they could make her right turn while we were signaling a left turn: God help you if you were delayed by 10 seconds in your haste to get to….????
We also had at least a dozen vehicles “buzz us” on Due West Road driven by careless and reckless motorists — remembering that Georgia has a stealth law called the Better Cycling Bill that includes a 3′ safe passing distance requirement that only serious road cyclists know about — putting our lives in danger without a thought other than “why hell are these idiots on the road slowing me down” as they were no doubt running late for Sunday services where they’d spend an hour listening to and agreeing with a sermon about the need to practice patience, tolerance and have love for thy fellow-man.
The number of careless and reckless motorists who I now see with a phone at their ear or beneath their gaze as they text while driving is mind-numbing. Clearly, at least 60-70% of the careless and reckless motorists I see behind the wheel of cars have their attention focused on a phone conversation or reading an Email, Text, FaceBook post or “cat videos” while “guiding” their 4,000 lb lethal weapon down the road. The number of distracted careless and reckless motorists I see on a daily basis suggests that a lot of pedestrians, motorcyclists and cyclists will be killed in the future, at far higher rates that we have seen in the past. Moreover, read-end collisions will clearly be the norm rather than the exception.
Seriously, it’s not hard to pick out which careless and reckless motorist is texting and driving or watching cat videos while driving a car. They look and behave just like drunk or stoned motorists who drift towards the center of the lane into the on-coming lane or shoulder of the road and then make abrupt corrections to put themselves back in the lane before returning their attention to that all-important text or video.
Sadly, it’s not hard to find reports / videos / blog entries regarding the increasing number of motorist “kills” and “suicides” caused by “smart phone” technology, never mind screwing around with on-board infotainment systems, GPS and other things that take their attention off the road.
Now, bear in mind, most motorists these days seem to have generally poor driving skills to begin with, as well as poor judgement about driving situations. Add to that 2nd or 3rd generation animosity towards cyclists — and I’m still clueless why motorists harbor anger towards cyclists as much as your average dog — that cause 16-year olds like the one in the passenger seat of a Nissan pickup last Saturday on lightly traveled Holland Road to flip-off the lovely Miss Debbie — a grandmother of 5 who was doing nothing more than riding placidly along a backroad — and me as they drove by easily exceeding the 35 mph posted speed limit by 15 mph: yeah, bicycles are the problem…
It’s just a sad and sorry situation that will get worse before it gets better: you mark my words.