Saturday, September 18, 2010

People vote with their cars

I wondered if I imagined the increase in aggressive driving every September, but a professional delivery driver confirmed it.

"You think it's the tourists that make it bad, but these are just the regular people," he said. "I think they're just used to fighting it all summer, so they're still fighting."

I have my own theory that the end of summer, the beginning of school and work schedules, shortening days and the urgency of early preparations for the season of cold and dark make people jumpy. Whatever the reason, I get a much more resentful vibe off of drivers for much of September.

If I can keep up the commute into fall, I become a roadside (or lane-covering) attraction. "Geez, look at that guy still riding." In fact, many people, even ones I don't really know, will ask me, "did you bike today?" when they see me in a store or at events and activities around the local area. I can only hope these aren't the same people trying to brush me back with the broad hood of the F-150 or GMC Yukon. Hard to say, really. People can innocently act out amazing double standards.

For now I have to be prepared for people expressing themselves with two tons of metal, slicing unnecessarily close and fast to let me know that, in their opinion, bike season is over. They still respond to herding. I just can't be lax about it.

Foliage tour buses can be the worst. The economy seems to have diminished their numbers, so there's a plus side to the rocky financial climate. I still keep an ear out for the distinctive smooth diesel of a box car full of gawkers.


cafiend said...

So today everyone behaved wonderfully. No complaints. If people want to prove my curmudgeonly assertions wrong I will welcome it.

Yokota Fritz said...

Traffic engineers already know (through traffic surveys) that the crappiest drivers are always the locals.

cafiend said...

Most accidents happen within (insert fairly small radius here) of home. Familiarity breeds contempt. The tsunami and aftermath of tourist hordes breeds a certain disregard for human life.

I have definitely noticed the tunnel vision of local drivers in the various places to which I have moved. It was most dramatically apparent when I moved from Florida, with predominantly wide streets and highways, to Annapolis, MD, which haphazardly shoved motor vehicles through a downtown street network laid out in the 17th and 18th centuries. I was amazed at the kinds of speeds the locals thought were normal...until I'd been there a while and acclimated. Only bicycle commuting provided me with enough of a reality check to keep from turning entirely into just another pushy speed demon.

RANTWICK said...

My vibe matches yours exactly. September (and October, depending on the weather) are crummy times. Just as you, once I'm an insane oddity, all is well.