Motorists Are Just Getting Worse…. A Rant.

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.

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About TG

I've been around a bit and done a few things, have a couple kids and a few grandkids. I tend to be curmudgeonly, matter-of-fact and not predisposed to self-serving chit-chat. Thankfully, my wife's as nice as can be otherwise we'd have no friends. My interests are somewhat eclectic, but whose aren't?
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12 Responses to Motorists Are Just Getting Worse…. A Rant.

  1. Aaron Hultin says:

    “ditzy chick” in California did attempt to make amends by coming into our world if only briefly and posting a replacement video if you have not seen it so there may be some hope albeit one person at a time. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZUbETQu65I&list=UUxuCo6xakLj32SuV0cNkfDQ

  2. TG says:

    I’ve seen her mea culpa video…

    I would like to think it was sincere, but my gut tells me it was either done to satisfy a request by her agent / publicist / lawyer (she’s apparently in the movie / tv industry) or perhaps the Santa Paula Police Dept. Moreover, what she said in her unscripted “rant” while out driving around is what is truly ingrained in her psyche… as well as the friends who came to her defense and, in at least one case, blatantly reinforced the original thought that created the furor (e.g., I wanna run over them sometimes too.). Other friends merely jumped on the “satire” bandwagon in an effort to brush over the point at which satire (i.e., making fun of how cyclists sometimes look and act) ended and expressing the desire to do physical harm (i.e.g, I’d like to run them over) entered the schtick.

    However, all of that said, I’m a full-on advocate of free speech and I’d rather know what people truly think than to censor or suppress “the words” to satisfy some silly P.C. agenda. I have no problem with what she said, just the backpedalling and damage control.

    Free speech is a two-way street… you gotta be willing to listen to a bunch of stuff that will most certainly upset you and go against your principles if you expect to do likewise to others. And, if you’re going to make broad threats against another person, just remember…. even if by accident you end up doing just that, you’ll be hard pressed to say “I was just kidding” when faced with evidence that could be used to show pre-disposition or pre-meditation.

  3. John Tipping says:

    We feel very fortunate to live in a rural part of a rural state (Maine) with not much traffic, where people tend to be fairly relaxed when it comes to sharing the road (he says, frantically knocking on wood). But you are absolutely right about drivers generally losing skill. Our local paper published a story in July about the 25% increase in head on collisions over the previous 6 months, mostly from drivers who are 1) distracted, 2) clueless, or 3) intentionally reckless, driving well over the speed limit, passing in no-passing zones, etc. If there is any redeeming quality to people who honk, scream obscenities, or give the finger, it is that at least they are paying attention. It has been said before, but many people have lost sight of the fact that driving is a privilege, not a right. A few thousand more suspended licenses might help with that.

    On a cycling note, Smith and Claude drove up to Maine for a weekend of riding before we all headed over to Burlington, VT for the Eastern Tandem Rally. 135+ tandems, and not a drop of rain the whole time. A great time was had by all.

  4. Ross says:

    Some Good news. In Sonoma County where cycling has been booming off the charts for the several years, my ride friends and I have all remarked on how our rides are improving. Fewer to no honks, people hanging back and waiting to pass, generally showing consideration for ALL road users. What has changed? The 3 feet rule and the sheer number of riders on the road. I am not talking Critical Mass crazies, just avid enthusiasts that are probably your neighbors. On some larger group rides, we have seen frustration to be ultimately met with acceptance, just the numbers and civility of the cyclists has helped, oh that and GO PRO. Drivers will shut up like a clam when they are on camera and you are getting their license plates…..

    Motorists should remember how many horsepower they have under the hood. To wait 10,20,30 seconds for a cyclist can be made up in a snap, if thats really important to you. They can be just so selfish and un-thinking. Thats what burns me. I drive a small truck with large machines on it and sometimes pull a large trailer for work. Just like cyclists, you get no respect; car drivers cut you off on the freeway, fail to signal, brake too late, generally have no regard for their surroundings. As one police officer said, to drive well you have to be situationally aware 100% of the time. That means you should be driving and doing nothing else, no eating, drinking, playing with the radio, fussing with your clothing etc. Its also a cultural thing. In Europe, the driving is way faster, but the penalties are harsher and more rigorously enforced. They drive better, are more considerate and certainly more aware. Oh and they have all ridden bikes at some point in their lives! It helps.

    • B. Carfree says:

      I wasn’t feeling the love as I crossed Sonoma County on my twice-annual ride from Eugene, OR to Davis, CA last May (on a tandem, of course). In my opinion, the motorists were much more tolerant of cyclists back in the ’80s when I first began crossing Sonoma County on a regular basis. (I lived in Davis and rode to Bodega Bay five to ten times per year.)

      Oh, and that three-foot law that comes into effect this week in CA, you might want to read it. It requires motorists to give three feet when passing as long as there isn’t a double yellow. If there is a double yellow, they are supposed to slow down and squeeze past. That’s got to be the single worst three-foot law in America and is worse than none at all.

  5. Rj Bbq says:

    There’s a lot of God talk in your rant. Sounds like you might have an ax to grind. I will be the guy in the black truck that chucks my big gulp at your stoker next Sunday on my why to church. Her is an idea ride single file when in traffic take the lane only when needed for safety. I ride my bike instead of blogging and hate when I see a fellow idiot cyclists ride two abreast impeding traffic because they may be technically allowed. This make it harder on cyclist that are not so Self Righteous. Now GFY

    • TG says:

      As I read your comment I was reminded of Tennessee’s 2010 gubernatorial candidate Basil Marceaux’s public pitch on Channel 4…

      Seriously…

      A rant is, by definition, axe grinding.

      As to the rest of your commentary, if we’re ever in the San Diego area on a Sunday morning I will most certainly keep an eye out for a black truck. In the mean time, do a little more homework on someone’s blog before commenting.

      Again, I’ll let the rest of your comments stand on their own. In fact, I may even feature them in a future blog entry that underscores how cyclists — as I truly believe you do ride a bike — can undermine legitimate, thoughtful bicycle advocacy with careless public commentary.

  6. Edward Gifford says:

    I agree Mark. It just gets worse here in NJ. Our legislature passed a 4 foot rule and we are buzzed everyday sometimes for no appaent reason. More laws that will not be enforced until someone is hit or killed, just like the cell phone law. Riding these days puts my head on a swivel and riding defensively. Keep the rubber side down, my friend!
    Ed and Pat Gifford
    Toms River, NJ

  7. Bob says:

    Appreciate that you identified the driver drifting across the centerline as African American. So what race were the other miscreants?

    • TG says:

      The other miscreants were caucasian…

      That said, when someone almost kills or does serious harm to me, the person I care most about and my friends I remember a lot of detail.

      But you’re right.

      I will go back and change that from african american to careless and reckless motorist and characterize the caucasian motorists I referenced in my rant likewise since careless and reckless motorists cross all racial boundaries.

  8. Rick says:

    There truly is no excuse for poor driving, and most people are about as qualified to be behind the wheel of a car as they are to be parents, which is to say not very much. Don’t forget though that, as a cyclist, exposing yourself to the risk of mixing with vehicular traffic on pavement is completely optional. My wife and I abandoned road riding years ago because the risk/ benefit analysis demanded it, and we ride exclusively in the woods. Problem solved immediately. In the the time we’ve been woods riders, we’ve had numerous friends and acquaintances injured and killed by vehicles on the road, but know of no one who has been seriously, or even “minorly” hurt in the woods. I won’t belabor the point except to say that it’s a viable option.

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