I love bicycling. It’s one of the few places where I can get away from the stress of the day and just enjoy the outdoors and view things from a more relaxed perspective. Everything just slows down a notch and I find I’m able to see things a little more clearly. Even cycling in city traffic is fun, albeit a little more adrenaline pumping than riding an old country road. There’s just about no style of cycling that I don’t enjoy and I try to remain positive about all aspects of the sport. Since I enjoy it so much, I almost always have a positive attitude concerning everything related to cycling, however after a series of rides yesterday I have to say I do have one pet peeve.
If there’s one thing that many cyclist’s consistently tend to steer clear of, it’s traffic. It’s not that I love traffic, but it doesn’t bother me all that much. I actually enjoy the excitement of riding in traffic. It keeps you on your toes and usually pumping your legs like mad to make the next light, or dodge the next car. I’ve ridden my bicycle in Paris, London and Manhattan, just to name a few cities, and these are some of the busiest roads in the world, so you’d think that riding in Nashville would be a piece of cake, right? Well, it is and it isn’t. The traffic may be lighter, but the skill of the local drivers is definitely diminished as well. They simply don’t know how to pass.
Most of the time, I let this kind of stuff just roll off my back. If the person in the car behind me doesn’t know how to pass me, that’s their problem not mine. I’m hugging the shoulder more than I probably should and if their comfort zone is so big that they feel that they have to give me the entire lane when they are trying to pass, that’s their problem. If they had clue, they could easily pass me with room to spare and barely have to slow down, but many drivers here in Nashville don’t. Instead, they hug my butt until they can pass me as if I were a car, giving me the entire lane as they drive past. Like I said, normally I let this stuff slide, but yesterday I ended up doing 3 rides totaling over 40 miles all over town and I had my fair share of idiots to contend with.
My favorite one was when a woman hugged my back tire for around 10 blocks because she couldn’t get her fat ass comfort zone around me in the more than ample space that she had. When she finally had two entire lanes in which to pass, she gunned her car and as she passed me honked her horn as if to say, “Get out of my way you stupid cyclist!” I just scowled and kept on cycling, but what she did really stuck in my craw. The nerve of some people. :/
I understand that everyone has a comfort zone when driving. I define this zone as the space in which your comfortable that your car isn’t going to hit something. I hate to generalize, but in my experience, it seems that men have a smaller comfort zone and have no problems passing me. Bus drivers and large trucks surprisingly have the smallest comfort zone and will whiz past me with only inches to spare and I love it! However, put a woman in a mini-van or SUV and there’s a better than 75% chance that her comfort zone is as big as an 18-wheeler. I know that there are plenty of excellent women drivers out there, so please don’t take me to task for picking on women drivers. I am not biased against women, or even other races for that matter. My bias is based on stupidity, plain and simple. As luck would have it, stupidity is found in every race, creed and sex so my bias is an equal opportunity employer. 😉
Ultimately, what drives me nuts about this issue is that there’s no solution. Short of requiring all drivers in Nashville to take a “How To Pass A Bicycle” course, there’s no reasonable fix to this problem. Instead, stupid drivers are going to continue to cause traffic problems because they don’t know how to share a road with a bicycle. Those driving automobiles will continue to get ticked off when they have to pass a cyclist and take it out on those of us who are just “trying to get along.”