They See Bikes Too

I’ll say this for the drivers of Colorado – they have this uncanny ability to see bicycles. Coming up to an intersection on the way down to the river path yesterday I could see a line of cars queuing to turn across my path and started to brake, assuming that even if they did see me they would continue to turn either on the grounds that I was on a bike and thus obviously going too slowly to worry about, or that I was on a bike and thus didn’t matter. But no, as I got to the junction the massive pick up waiting to turn sat there still waiting to turn until I had got safely out of the way. And then on the way back, turning into a petrol station for essential lubricants (chapstick) and fuel (Pearson’s Salted Nut Rolls), the car waiting to pull out waited until I had pulled in. And if you’re reading this waiting for the surprising part of the story, then you haven’t cycled much in any British city.

But it’s not just on the bike. On foot, the cars actually stop when you want to cross the road, even if they are some way away or turning, which is fortunate as it will be at least a week before I can work out which way to look before crossing the road. There’s none of the UK-style game of chicken that you need to play to assert your rights on a zebra crossing where the drivers only grudgingly stop once you’ve stepped out into the road and only then if you pretend you can’t see them and act as if you’re going to walk right across the road in front of them – they just roll to a stop and wait patiently for you to cross, which given the width of the roads around here could be a while. Then again, it may be merely astonishment at seeing someone on foot at all.

And it’s not even just the drivers. Walking through the University campus this afternoon, some young skateboarders were tooling about at the entrance to the building we were headed for. ‘Stop and let these people past’ one young lad admonished his friend before he could launch himself down the steps we were heading for. I don’t know what the youth of today is coming to, frankly. Perhaps they’re just practising for the day when they have cars of their own and can freak the hell out of a visiting UK cyclist by noticing they exist.


8 Responses to They See Bikes Too

  1. Andy in Germany says:

    I have the same experience with the Bakfiets, and there it really was because the drivers didn’t know what they were looking at. Several years later and drivers from out of town still give me space but you can tell the locals because they see through me again.

  2. Bob says:

    And there you are, with neither cane nor seeing-eye dog. What a mystery.

  3. disgruntled says:

    Andy – don’t the locals give you space because they know you?
    Bob – visitors from drive-on-the-left countries should probably be issued with both before attempting to walk around on drive-on-the-right ones, for safety’s sake…

  4. John Gibson says:

    I think it’s just a matter of good manners. We get a good number of visting American students, who come to the college I work for. They are always calling me sir. I am not that keen on it, and I tell them just to call me John, but they are very polite.

  5. disgruntled says:

    I did wonder whether the courtesy from the skateboarders was mostly due to our advanced age…

  6. Andy in Germany says:

    “Andy – don’t the locals give you space because they know you?”

    Fair comment: a lot of the locals do, but there are some that just don’t react to anything unless it could damage their car. The commuters going through the village seem especially bad for some reason.

  7. Paul M says:

    I must say from my own experiences of the US – apart from NYC, which is not really representative – motorists are generally more sedate and more considerate in their driving. They seem less hurried and less aggressive. Perhaps that is because outside of major cities the roads are less congested?

    Of course the other explanation could be militant grannies – like in this clip (with skateboarding prelude)

  8. disgruntled says:

    In the interest of balance we did encounter our first arsehole driver the other day – but at least while honking at us and gesticulating that we should get over to the right, he did still give us plenty of room

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