Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Sometimes Motorists Do the Darndest Things
After writing my friends phone number on my left arm*, I had to deal with one of the complications that my bicycle set-up causes. With the unusually heavy snowfall in the local region, I had a little trouble getting onto the road that attaches to my driveway so I could resume impeding traffic.
I have chosen to equip both of my bicycles with a speedplay pedal and cleat system. One of the characteristic features of this system is that it is intolerant of mud, packed snow, ice, sand and gravel. These pedals are a particularly poor choice for the cyclocross crowd.
Now, when I chose them, I could think of no reason to have to walk in them- certainly not once I got underway! Ah, yes, those were the days!
With the wet season in full force, I normally have negotiate 200 feet across the lawn from the door to the driveway that is mud, muddy and swampy. I have an old set of sneakers that have the singular purpose of delivering me with dry feet onto my driveway. Whereupon I remove them and put on my cycling shoes, and they await my return.
Today, (Friday February 12) however, I faced a 50 yard walk in twelve inches of snow. This was the heavy wet kind you Yankees seem so familiar with, not the dry blowsy kind that passes before the residents up in Montana and Wyoming while on it’s way to Nebraska. If I wore those faithful sneakers, I would have to take a towel to dry my feet before donning socks and cycling shoes. All the while standing on one foot, perhaps on the roadway. Yes, it would’ve been ugly.
So I slogged out to the streets with these boots on. Switched shoes and I was on my way. Oh, and I put the boots in a plastic bag to protect them from automobile spray.
This is a trade-off for my style of cycling. I find it acceptable.
Why I want to town
Today I viewed the Ennis Police stop dash cam videos and some of the audio that was recorded on them. (today = Friday February 12)
I’m glad I did. I found that my demeanor was not nearly as combative as I had feared. My contemporaneous recollections of our conversations are more accurate than I thought they were. I was striving for accuracy in all of my descriptions of the events and so I am pleased.
When Officer Watson stopped me in town, on October first, I saw that I had forgotten part of it. While Officer Watson and Sgt. Pillow discussed the ins and outs on impeding traffic, I was looking for identifying marks on the police car to write down, pen and paper in hand. Suddenly you can see a light go on in my head as I remember that I have my camera with me! And even with me looking the police car over so carefully, I never did notice Sgt. Pillow!
One aspect of the dash cam footage that interested me was how soon I could be observed from traffic coming up behind me.
So when Officer Hudson comes up on me, on the dash cam there is no me to be seen! There is this old pickup protectively trailing behind me with his hazards on! Yikes!
It’s the fella who was hopping up and down, warning me that the long arm of the law would soon put an end to my scofflaw ways, or something similar.
Now, in my opinion, he did something incredibly dangerous and stupid!
Part of what makes a bicycle driver safe from being “runned over” is our distinctive silhouette. Everyone who sees it knows instantaneously that the cyclist is moving at a “slow speed”. I operate in the most annoying lane position I can precisely so that I will be seen and identified as a slow moving driver at the earliest possible instant. I want to afford the motorist the maximum time to access his options, decide early to merge, and go around me. In the vast majority of the time, motorists flow around the slow vehicle without hesitation and without the slightest of delays.
But for a distracted driver, making a quick scan ahead every four or five seconds, they rarely notice that they are quickly closing the gap between them and a slow vehicle when the slow vehicle is an automobile. In a quick glance, our minds assume the automobile is proceeding down the road at approximately the same speed we are. We have been trained for that by endless repetition.
Thus, I believe this “good Samaritan” was in grave peril, just as he felt about me.
Keri Nailed It
“The culture of speed causes some police to enforce traffic flow vs safety. Worse, they often don’t even realize that their concepts of protecting safety are stealthy manifestations of traffic flow management. (i.e. the notion that speed differentials and lane changes cause safety problems resulting from the presence of a slow vehicle rather than the incompetent or aggressive behavior of faster drivers)”
The language and concepts Officer Hudson spoke to me about precisely reflects this idea that the problem is my presence, not the competency of the motorists. I believe he was genuinely concerned about my safety. But while he had watched me drive by him earlier that day on Hwy 287, he failed to observe how traffic operated around me.
He said many 911 callers said there were many close calls and near wrecks. Did he observe any? It doesn’t matter, these reports validated his bias of how the situation would play out.
Perhaps he will watch how fast traffic behaves around an obviously slow moving driver tonight. Perhaps he will listen enough to hear why traffic behaves as it does.
*You can thank SteveA for the precise description.