Sunday, September 5, 2010

How's My Driving? - Final Post

Authors note: the following post was supposed to be the last one about my "How's My Driving" sign, but I ended up displaying it again in early 2013... so what was a Final post then isn't anymore, if you know what I mean.

I rode around with a "How's My Driving" sign on my bike for a few months during the summer of 2010. To read about why, read this. I've decided to wrap up my little experiment. For what it is worth, this post includes the small amount of feedback I did get.

On June 29, Dave said:

You're an idiot...plain and simple. Any moron that cycles in the middle of a lane on a busy road slowing rush hour traffic down to a crawl must have brain damage. It's morons like you that lead to motorists despising cyclists. Get your head out of your ass. Bike on the right side of the lane where traffic can safely pass. Taking the entire lane and peddling along at 25 kph is ignorance.

Screw you.


To which I replied:

Dave,Thanks for answering to my sign, despite your pretty angry approach. I have two main points I want to make in response.

1 - I am simply a slower vehicle that doesn't want to get hit or squeezed into the gutter. There are lots of things that slow cars down, including other cars, heavy equipment, buses, etc. Why do I get the special angry treatment?

2 - I only take the whole lane when there isn't room for cars to pass me safely, and get out of the way to the right when I can. Remember that even though your car may fit OK at that moment, I have to also think of the moron in a cube van who figures they can squeeze by. Since I'm the one who would pay the price for their bad decision, I have to take away their opportunity to make it in the first place. As much as I would like to, I can't risk my own safety for your convenience. I have kids and stuff who would miss me.

Last thing: I drive a car almost every day too.

Dave responded:

Dear Moron,

Thanks for the garbage response. Addressing my rant as "petty" only tells me the kind of guy you are. You're asking for feedback and I gave you exactly the feedback every single person you slowed down was thinking..."Screw You".

With respect to your points I call BS.

1) You are slow despite your best efforts to squeeze your plump body into spandex. This is something no one of your build or stature should ever try to do. The tight clothes aren't going to reduce drag...they're only displaying things to the world that no man, or woman should ever display. There are slow cars, trucks, vans, ice cream trucks out there...but they avoid downtown during rush hour - as should you.

2) You are a liar. You were happily annoying traffic despite the fact there was a right line next to you that was "under construction". There was a good 2-3 feet of lane you still could of used but instead you chose to ride in the middle of the left lane. I get it - you don't want to get hit. If you can't occupy 3 feet of open lane and avoid getting hit - you shouldn't be riding a bike.

So...I suggest you do one of two things. Either stick to your car, or be considerate of the people you share the road with. That means letting faster traffic pass, and not wearing an outfit that puts your grapes on display for the world.


To which I replied:


Thanks for getting back to me on this. To your points:

I did not call your response "petty". I called it "pretty angry" which I think was fair.

Yes, I am slow. Slower than I would like to be anyway. I am sorry that you and others had to see me in spandex, but I find it most comfortable to ride in. We all suffer at the hands of other people's clothing choices sometimes; I'm afraid you will just have to get over it.

If I had chosen to ride in 2-3 feet of construction zone, how would I have gotten out of that lane when I ran out of room? Would you have graciously waved me in, grapes and all? I have been riding in the street for a long time. My choices (was it York street?) are safer and easier for everybody, believe it or not.

Last, I was not aware that slow vehicles avoided downtown.

Dave's 3rd reply is below, with my comments in blue:

To anyone reading this (and i doubt anyone is), let me conclude with this.

I'm all for cyclists. Go ahead and peddle to your hearts content. If you're going to jump on a bike, consider the following:

Dave, please know that I am not "cyclists". I am me. As such, I am answering strictly for myself.

1) You can't take the middle of a lane unless there is another lane available for cars to pass. It's ludicrous to think you can/should hold up other commuters. By every law that I know of in North America, I can. What I find ludicrous is that it is a problem to slow down for the short time (usually just seconds) it takes for me to arrive at a place where I can safely get right or where you can safely pass. Please just pretend I am a garbage truck.

Safety is paramount for you guys...In my car I’m bigger, heavier and can do a lot of damage to you - so think!!! Do you really, honestly, think that you understand this fact better than a person who would put a sign like this on his bike?

Take appropriate routes. I do. I only display my "How's My Driving?" sign when I am commuting to work and back. I often choose to take a more busy, direct route in the interest of getting to work or back home on time. Most times I'm on the bike, I am commuting, just like you, and don't have time for the scenic route.
Where there isn't a cycle lane, stick to the side and let cars by you safely.
While I completely trust you and your judgement about what a safe pass is, Dave, I'm afraid I don't trust everybody else on the road. In the interest of my own safety, I can't do that all the time.

DON'T make cars pass you, and then pull to the front of the line at a light - you're only making us all pass you again. This is the single biggest pet peeve of all motorists when it comes to you and your bikes. I'm a motorist, and I disagree. My biggest pet peeves about cyclists are sidewalk and wrong-way riders. They often dart out in front of you without warning, because they are difficult to see. My sign said "How's My Driving?", not "How's the driving of every cyclist who ever made you mad?". I have spent years becoming a much better bike driver. Displaying that sign has made me an even better one, because I know people might call me on what I do on the road. I used to sneak up to a light on the right of cars, but I almost never do that now. It is called "queue jumping". Strangely, the times I do it now are when I'm in a bike lane.

2) Clothing is comfortable but don't go out looking like Lance Armstrong unless you can pull it off. Wear quick-dry tops if you need to but don't wrap yourself up like Liza Minnelli attending a hot yoga class.
Dave, I told you before, get over it.

Thanks for the forum to vent...this has a lot to do with terrible eco-cyclists who have no clue how to ride a bike safely and alot less to to with RANTWICK (aka Moron) himself. His selfish cycling with a sign attached to his back simply let me type this somewhere.
Dave, you are welcome. Please remember, however, that I am no more a representative of all cyclists (including the terrible ones) than you are of all motorists (including the terrible ones).

I bid you all adieu.

D (AKA Pretty Angry)

Many days passed without any kind of comment, then this:

Please forgive the redundant info in the video... since it is on youtube I want it to make some sort of sense if people find it there instead of here.

Then, only a few days later, another shoutout on the very same street...

As you can see, it was something of a failed experiment, because I was hoping for some useful discussion of why I ride like I do. Just the same, thanks to those who responded, even Dave.



fred_dot_u said...

Dave made reference to the size of his vehicle and how much damage it could cause. I hear/read this sort of thing in comments to my YouTube videos on a regular basis.

If that reference were valid, most or all motor vehicle drivers should be removed from the road, because semi-trailer drivers operate heavier equipment.

Sometimes there's no communicating to these people.

danc said...

Regarding "something of a failed experiment"

No way, great Q/A and fine ending. Mr. D was just anxious to get to work like you and upset at any delay!


Steve A said...

Hey, Rantwick, if you know any of those Eco types Dave is irritated with, let them know I'm offering a special deal on carbon offsets. If they tell me "Rantwick sent me," I'll give them half off and only charge for the mileage I roll up on my Eco-friendly Cateye Commuter. Canadian money taken at par if they act before the end of the week!

On second thought, Dave seems to be a bit confused so he might be interested?

RANTWICK said...

fred - yeah, that one never gets old.

danc - thanks man!

steve - I don't know any eco cyclists... but I am a bit of a hermit. Perhaps one will see your kind offer and mention me anyway!

cafiend said...

My response to the "might makes right" argument is that I simply carry a gun and a small sledge hammer, so back off.

Seriously, threatening someone with bodily harm is considered a crime in many jurisdictions. Yet the motorist argument that "I might crush you, much as I care," is taken as normal conversation.

GreenComotion said...

What are you selling (peddling) on the streets?

Peace :)

Kokorozashi said...

"Yet the motorist argument that 'I might crush you, much as I care,' is taken as normal conversation."

Right on.

It amazes me how many otherwise apparently-normal people make this precise comment on a regular basis. Some of them say it simply in passing -- those cases where it translates as, "I'm bigger, so it's up to you to watch out for me." -- but one hears it disturbingly often as a veiled threat, "Watch out for me, because I *know* I can hurt you, and you can't do a d***ed thing about it if I do."

I always want to stop people who say things like that and reply, "Wait -- you want me to ride on the sidewalk, right? You know I'm bigger and faster than your four-year-old daughter, right? So she better dang well stay out of my way," and see if that makes them understand how they sound.

However, I have a feeling the point would be lost, and I would wind up in jail.

Plus, I mostly (mostly) try not to be a jerk. Mostly. :)

a chris said...

Holy moly, my head just about exploded reading that exchange. I won't bother typing the things I think about Angry Dave. It doesn't take much imagination to know what they are anyway. Good on you for being brave enough to do that experiment and to carry it through in an incredibly civil way.

RANTWICK said...

a chris - Hey, thanks man. The Civil thing was part of the experiment for sure and pretty hard to do. I'm really pleased you apprecited the effort.

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