Saturday, July 21, 2012

The witness you carry with you

A friend just sent this link to a New York Times article about cyclists using their wearable video cameras to document attacks by aggressive motorists. I had that exact idea when I started to want a camera, long before I actually got one.

The link arrived a day after all three of us at the shop had incidents on the same day. Compared to getting machine-gunned in a crowded theater our troubles didn't seem like much, so I didn't post anything about them. Motorist nastiness is so routine anyway that it hardly seems worth calling out individual examples unless they do hit you. The problem is that you never know when that might occur.

Yesterday, when we each had our encounters, the driving public seemed inexplicably antsy. I'd had a fairly placid ride in the morning, when my colleagues reported their harassment, but within half a mile of my home on the evening run I had a driver put his car full of people, an oncoming car full of people and me at completely unnecessary risk by forcing past me when I was already covering the lane.

The volatile jerk ruins the effectiveness of a lane-covering cyclist by either mowing you down or simply going even farther into the opposite lane as if it's their indisputable right to pass without slowing and without regard for anyone else who happens to be trying to occupy the same general space at the time.

I was not wearing the camera, after weeks of uninteresting recording. I may put it on again, but I certainly don't relish the idea of sifting through the recording after getting hit.

While all the reports of ugly encounters resonate with all cyclists who have had them, you have to remember that you never hear about the thousands of cyclists who landed safely after an uneventful trip. Our standard of uneventful may have to be a bit flexible, but the fact remains that most trips go smoothly enough.

The sad reminders of human selfishness take their toll subconsciously. I seethe a little when I think about the fact that I might be maimed or die as a result of someone else's mere impatience. If I ever do give up cycling I'm going to drive really slowly down the dead center of the road with signs all over my car that say, "I used to ride a bike. You could pass me easily. How do you like me NOW?"


Steve A said...

The simple fact that the OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of encounters and, indeed, total trips are either uneventful or even positive, make the ugly events all the more shocking.

cafiend said...

Shocking is the word. There's little to choose between thoughtlessness and malice when either one places a low value on your life.

Anonymous said...

Something in the air?
Its down in Arkansas as well.

The last week or so I have have had multiple passes into oncoming cars while trying to control the lane. They never even hit the brake, just power by on double yellows and blind hills.

I think that I need that sign for my work van that I usualy drive 10 to 15 mph slower than average.