Showing posts with label How's My Driving. Show all posts
Showing posts with label How's My Driving. Show all posts

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Return of the How's My Driving? Sign

I've been reading some old posts on this blog and I think I'm gonna try the "How's My Driving?" sign again for a while.
I have 3 main reasons:

1) I have never tried it in winter. The fact that I'm out in the snow and ice might spur more people to comment. We shall see.

2) My URL is way more simple... ( people may remember and use it more easily. Plus, there are way more smartphones out there than when I tried it the first time. I hope and pray it is the passenger responding, though!

3) That sign kept me really honest when it came to riding responsibly. Having it displayed makes me ride better / more safely.

IMPORTANT NOTE: As before, the sign may draw comment trolls and other honestly angry or rude people to this blog. Engage if you like, but follow my lead and kill them with kindness and utter civility. If you can't do that, do not comment. This is about a hopefully useful discussion between me and the motorists who see me, not name-calling or finger-pointing or any of the other nonsense that plagues comments about cycling all over the Internet. 
Yer Pal,

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Public Apology for An Idiotic Move

I am just in from work. About half an hour ago (4:45 my time) I made a completely idiotic move on the bike that I am ashamed of. I have to make dinner and stuff right now, but on the tiny chance that the driver I almost crashed in front of while crossing the train tracks on Egerton at Brydges is looking me up, I am really sorry. That was the most stupid thing I've done on the bike in a very very long time. I don't know what the hell I was thinking.

I will explain all later tonight or tomorrow, but I just wanted to get my sincere sorry out there right away.

---- about five hours later ----

OK, I'm done my chores and I thought I wanted to relay every little detail, with diagrams and everything, but now I just want to try and forget it.

I don't display my "How's My Driving" sign any more, but the blue tub on the back of my bike has reflective vinyl letters spelling "R A N T W I C K" on it. That's where the tiny chance that the driver I impressed today could have looked up this blog comes in.

Let's just say I was coming in perpendicular to a long line of cars just as some railway arms were lifting and in an effort to join the traffic flow rather than wait "forever" for the traffic backup to clear I put myself badly out of position, so much so that I had to push my way in ahead of a car from the left. That established me as a jerk.

So eager was I to get to where I belonged in the lane, I then failed to handle some train tracks properly and very nearly went down right in front of that same car. That established me as a moron.

I'm really not sure how I stayed upright, but I ended up careening off to the right on to the sidewalk, where I brought myself to a stop, hung my head and waved my apology to the car. That established me as one of the reasons cyclists have no place on the road, particularly in winter in the minds of many who witnessed the event. Damn it! Other cyclists are out there saving the day.

As some of the comments have already reminded me, everybody makes a bonehead move once in a while. That of course goes for cars and bikes and everything else. I think there should be a universal "I'm sorry. My bad" hand signal of some kind so others could at least know that you know you were in the wrong and wish you could take it back.

Steve A said he hoped I learned something, as he recently did, from a riding mistake. I did. Unfortunately it was something I already knew, that saving a little time is never a good reason to take extra risks with your safety or anybody else's. Cyclists rant at motorists for not being willing to just slow down or wait a few seconds extra all the time... consider me re-schooled.

Yer Shame-Faced Pal,

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.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Unexpected Results

Well, yesterday went by without anybody responding to my sign. Here's a picture of it on the bike:

Riding around with that thing on the bike did, however, yield some results, just not the ones I had expected. The first one was that it seemed to me that most drivers were a little more deferential and careful as they overtook me. My feeling was that they suspected a trick of some kind, or were simply reminded that how we both "drove" was important. I expected at least a few to yell out their answers, but that didn't happen.

Secondly, I rode much more responsibly. Far from perfect, I had nonetheless thought that I was riding about as well as I could. I was wrong. I signalled more, waved more, smiled more, and took almost no "grey area" risks or liberties with the rules. That damn sign put me on my very best behaviour. It makes me wonder how everybody would behave if their phone number was displayed on their vehicle...

OK, I know that my Rantwick address isn't exactly my home phone number, but knowing that people may be contacting you regarding your on-road behaviour has a definite effect.

Lastly, I felt like a pretty big weirdo nerd freak. It is one thing to be odd using your blogging alter ego, but quite another to display your strangeness on the streets where you live to both friends strangers who probably won't get you. Some of the comments on yesterday's post comforted me that some people out there appreciated what I was up to, but as I neared home yesterday I saw something near the river behind Labatt's brewery that really put true weirdness into perspective:

That fish and line were simply too far from the bridge or the water for it to have been an accidental thing. I may have to call the City about it, if only because I ride past that spot often and its presence will creep (and gross) me out. I'm hoping a bird or something will take care of it for me.

Anyway, while that image seemed a little surreal and vaguely disturbing to me, it eased my mind about my weirdness. Compared to whoever hung that poor little river fish from a telephone line, I am super normal. A model citizen and psychologically stable dude. Right? Right? Tell me I'm right.

I'm gonna keep using the sign, maybe not every day, but often, in the hopes that sooner or later I'll get a nibble.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Reaching Out to Motorists

ATTENTION PARENTS: The comments on this post contain colourful language that you may not want children to read.

One of the things I find frustrating about cycling stuff online, especially the "educate cyclists and/or motorists" stuff, is that we Internet cyclist types, in the main, debate amongst ourselves on the finer points and rarely seem to reach the people who hate us most, the angry/misinformed motorist.

When people do comment on mainstream newspaper articles and such, the tired old arguments begin anew, with the way over the top, rude and stupid proponents of cycling or motoring turning what could be a good discussion into a big stupid mess.

I'm going to try something. It may not work at all, but if it does, I think it could be kind of cool. I am going to stick this sign on the back of my bike:

I hope some of the motorists who see me will show up here and comment. If they do, it won't be about "those cyclists", it will be about this cyclist and possibly the specifics of how I behave on the road. Now here is the important part, and the reason for this post: If you can't comment on what these people have to say without being COMPLETELY polite and diplomatic, please don't. I have been praised in the past for my diplomacy in responding to comments from people who really disagree with me, and I want to try and get real discussions going, not rude and thoughtless shouting matches.

If someone is being mean or derisive or crude, please don't try to defend me... I will kill them with kindness and can take care of myself if that doesn't work.

Of course, there is an excellent chance that nobody will ever comment on my stupid little sign, in which case I am sorry for having wasted your time and mine yet again.

Wish Me Luck,