Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The problem with Springfield

You guys are just way too nice, and it's starting to cause problems.

Just today, for example, I was waiting at a stop sign. It was sort of a tricky intersection - cross traffic did not stop, and parked cars lined both sides of the street, limiting my view of oncoming traffic. I was waiting on one last car to go by before crossing the road, but that one car slowed way down.

And then it stopped.

It had no blinker on, the car wasn't turning. It was just sitting there. I looked to the driver to see, you know, what the heck.

He very kindly waved me across the street in front of him. Srsly.

As I waved my gratitude and started ticking the pedals over I couldn't help but think how much simpler it would have been if he had just kept on going.

I mean, there are rules for a reason, right? When everyone obeys the rules of the road there's a sense of order, and everybody stays safe.

The thing is, kindnesses like this aren't rare. They are, in fact, quite common. Kind drivers - lots of them - have waved me through four-way stops when it was clearly not my turn, have hesitantly driven right behind me when there was plenty of room and opportunity to pass. This stuff happens way more often than encounters with rude, dangerous drivers.

Don't get me wrong, I'd rather share the road with super-nice drivers who are extra aware of cyclists and go out of their way to show a little consideration than asshole drivers who go out of their way to harass us. We all appreciate kind gestures.

It's okay, though, to treat people on bikes just the same way you treat people in cars.


  1. This happens asometimes in Santa Barbara too!
    It makes it hard to anticipate what is going to happen... people are too nice. :)
    Do you think it happens to male cyclists too? I wonder if it's a gender thing.

    1. Wow. I thought it might be a Midwest thing, but I guess not. I do know this kind of thing happens to dudes here, though I can't speak to the frequency of the incidents.

  2. happens to me as well. If there are other cars at the intersection as well, I make it a point to not take them up on the offer because I don't want to do anything out of turn and because other motorists have been known to get impatient and start moving when they see the "nice" car just sitting there. I usually just stand down, take my hands off the bars and politely wave them through. If they're windows are down, I usually try to say "Thanks, but you need to go"!

  3. I have written many times on CT that this is the single biggest traffic problem I have in SGF. While it's a good problem to have ;-) such situation can be terribly dangerous. Tracy's comment above is right on!