Friday, March 26, 2010

Get Ready for Distracted Driving Month

April has been designated Distracted Driving Awareness Month. According to what I've seen the past couple of days, people think it's a competition and are already practicing.

After nearly sharing my sliver of shoulder with a small white sedan out on Route 28 I had this sudden flash of the driver's next text message:

"Jst klld bker! LOL! Meet 4 cofee?"

Yesterday I had a very slow ride to work. The morning was chilly but manageable. I didn't feel sore and tired, but I had no inclination to push the pace. I really need to get more than six hours of sleep a night.

The day looked rather pleasant for several hours. The temperature went up to around 60. But stratus clouds drifted stealthily across the sky, first filtering, then blocking the sun. By mid afternoon, out of the corner of my eye the view looked ominously moist. Each time I looked carefully at the clouds, though, I saw that the deck was still high and dry.

With a few minutes to go, I went out to bring in some display items from the front of the store. The wind had come up sharply. Curtains of virga hung from the approaching storm front. This looked like it would hit any minute.

I checked the National Weather Service for conditions at Laconia Airport. Winds were southwest, 18-30. If I could get to Route 28 without getting soaked I could sit up and let it blow me home.

My route out of town zigzags a bit. On a lot of it I already had the advantage of the tailwind. When I pulled out onto 28 I was right behind a stinky diesel pickup that had to pass me before the stop sign because motor vehicles always have to be in front of bicycles. With the tailwind behind me, he couldn't drop me as we both accelerated onto the highway. I really wished he could pull away, because I was choking in the cloud of exhaust fumes. The wind and the truck's draft kept me close while I tried not to breathe.

Once the truck pulled away the air cleared. The wind blew me right out from under the leading edge of the storm. I'd gotten home, split some firewood, cleaned the cat box, fed the furballs and stretched before the rain caught up to me.

This morning the cold front brought freezing temperatures. Tomorrow we're looking at dawn temperatures around 9 degrees F. I'm glad that stuff doesn't hang around more than a day or two this time of year.

It still beats driving. Oh my, how it beats driving.


Mystified said...

How can you possibly put in a "donate" button for that criminally misguided jerk in Texas who went out of his way to make a bad name for cyclists everywhere? I'm not being provocative, I'm truly mystified how rational cyclists can support him. You're just making a knee-jerk reaction to assume that because he rides a bike he must of necessity be right.

There are plenty of cases where cyclists have been harassed, threatened, injured, and killed by motorists. But "Chipseal" is a very skilled self-promoter, and he's done a great job of getting naive people to send him money. Tell me... when's the movie?

Steve A said...

Starting with your fifth paragraph, keep this post as one of the great ones of all time. It captures the essence of bike commuting...

Steve A said...

PS: Carbon DOES rule, but it can kiil ya too...

cafiend said...

Mystified: I am mystified as to your identity and credentials. Please elaborate.

Every cyclist chooses how to interpret the opportunities and responsibilities presented by state traffic laws. While Chip chooses to be more ultra-vehicular than many of us, his position makes him a critical mass of one. He has indeed put himself and other cyclists at risk of a backlash.

Most of us do give up our seat and move to the back of the bus, because that usually gets us through the day without being beaten up. But that doesn't work for everyone and it doesn't necessarily promote a change to a better situation.

A controversial position is risky. Maybe a better system of laws, attitudes and infrastructure will evolve geologically slowly without anyone taking a bold stand. Maybe Britain and America would have just drifted apart without that showy Revolutionary War. Maybe civil rights would have come along almost as quickly without rallies, speeches, voter registrations and a surge of terrifying anger on both sides. But even in geology, gradual changes will lurch forward on a cataclysm.

I doubt if I would have the resolve to go through what Chip has chosen to go through. That doesn't necessarily mean no one should do it. I'm waiting and watching.

Ed Sailland said...

"Controversial"? Nah. Just daft as a brush. A "bold stand" for what, exactly? Folly? Or simply the right to cycle without a rearview mirror? (A particular point of pride with ole Chip, apparently. Something to do with him not wanting to know if anything is gaining on him, I suppose.)

I will say this, cafiend, old son -- you may be getting on in years and feeling a little stiff in the joints these days, but you can still stretch a point like nobody's business. Let's see… Patrick Henry, Rosa Parks, and now…wait for it…Chipseal.

Chipseal?! Some folks will following anything that moves, however doolally the destination. I wouldn't have put you in that class, I admit, but it seems I was mistaken. Still, it's good you've at last found a man with the mettle to carry your flag. So why not go the whole hog? Why stop at emptying your pockets of spare change? Why not put ole Chip's name in the hat for the next Nobel Peace Prize draw? It's no less than his due. After all, he's fighting for the Freedom of the Lane.

Semper Fi, guy! Keep that flag raised high. And always check commentators' credentials. Someone might be trying to put one over on you. Not ole Chip, of course. He's a Man of Principle. With some three thousand bucks of others' principal in his purse to show for it. So Let Him Ride!

cafiend said...

Ed! Interesting. Have you shared your views with the others who have been duped by Mr. Seal?

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