Tuesday, February 2, 2010

In A Position to Help

I recently read a blog post from Keri at Commute Orlando in which she describes removing obstructions (garbage cans) from one of the bike lanes she uses. I thought that was nice of her. Coincidentally, I was also able to help others out on my way home today:

I know it looks for all the world like I made a conscious effort to stay out of the shot, but I had forgotten about the camera and when I remembered the video, I fully expected to see myself pushing that car. What's also interesting to me after the fact is that I was helping to obstruct a bike lane! I guess the global karmic balance of bike lane blockage needed to be upheld somehow, so I proceeded to undo Keri's work in my own way.

Cyclists and pedestrians are in a unique position to be helpful. Beyond the ease with which we can just pull over and dismount (or, um, stop and walk in a different direction), we are more likely to respond to the people and things around us because 1) we're not speeding by too fast to react and 2) we're not encased and insulated by a metal box. I am sure the good cycling people who read this blog have all kinds of stories where they were able to help out a little and were more likely to do so thanks to being on a bike. For myself, I most often find myself removing stuff from the roadway, like garbage bags:

I wouldn't have gotten out of my car in the rain. For everyone who stops to help, no matter how you get around, thanks!

Yer Pal,



Unknown said...

A few years ago there was this guy who was trying to push his car into a parking lot to get it off the road. While everyone was stopped waiting to pass him, not a single person got out to help. Many were even honking to get him moving faster.

So I left my bike on the sidewalk and helped him push the car into the parking lot.
Some people really amaze me.

jeff said...

I don't get many thank-you's, but when I ride on rural roads I'll see turtles trying to cross. I'll get off the bike and carry them to the other side, risking defensive urination.

Keri said...

I've stopped and rescued lots of turtles, too.

Most of my people-helping involves giving directions. I've stopped to help cyclists with flat tires several times.

RANTWICK said...

Ryan - Yeah, once you're in that seat it is hard to get out (for some) I guess.

Jeff and Keri - Turtle rescue? That is so much cooler than pushing cars...

Steve A said...

Somehow your story about people honking at the guy pushing his car made my day. Would they have been happier had he gotten scared and just left it there to obstruct traffic? Would they have honked at it had it been on the road with nobody around?

I've never seen a turtle or alligator on my route to rescue, and the only cyclists I've seen with flats were on the HH100, or myself. I did see a beaver once, but decided it didn't need rescuing since it was already somewhat squished when I saw it. I notice that lost motorists seem to think that cyclists know where stuff is, or perhaps the lack of glass makes us more approachable.

Steve A said...

Forgot, I DID help another cyclist fix a flat once, but it wouldn't count as being nice. More like sucking up to the bike school teacher...

Bryan Dotson said...

I think Rantwick is on to something that I haven't seen on other blogs.

I frequently remove road debris from simply a selfish standpoint. My wife with my two girls transits the same road, so keeping it clean is in my best interest. Also, getting tire treads off the roadway ASAP reduces the amount of wire on the road.

Past selfish actions, utility cylists are in a good position to do the right thing. For example, last week I saw an accident happen about a half mile ahead (4-lane, rush hour, wide shoulder, 50 mph posted). I stopped and found others rendering aid effectively, but the accident was at a bend and approaching traffic was braking hard. I set my two Xenon strobes facing the traffic and with my high visibility jacket and gloves, slowed the traffic down. I did this, ready to jump over the guardrail, for about 5 minutes until a tow truck arrived and properly blocked the lane.

We are in a unique position to help keep roads safe and flowing smoothly.

RANTWICK said...

Bryan - Hey, thanks for visiting. Your accident story is a perfect example of what I was talking about. Well done!

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