Log in

current entries friends' entries archives about me Previous Previous Next Next
Traffic and Phones - cellophane
the story of an invisible girl
Traffic and Phones
Don't you hate when a person's cell phone has a catchy ring? Jim's did earlier today, and it played for quite some time before he managed to silence it.

Quite catchy. I started humming it, then singing it out load. I leaned over to look at Jim. "Hey! Do you think your phone's ringing?"

"No.... but I did perk up quite a bit when I heard you."

* * * *

I was sitting at an intersection at a red light. The left-turn arrows turned green for the street running perpendicular to mine. The car to the left of me turned, but the car on my right didn't. A couple of the people behind her honked their horns. But there was a young man on a bicycle crossing the road where she would have to drive. I'm not sure if his light was green; I suspect it wasn't. But still - a person on a bike - much smaller than a car. Folks, let's stop with the honking and anger.

When the girl finally was able to turn left past the bicycle, she reached her finger out the window to point at the cyclist. I could see she was trying to point for the cars behind her, "Look, don't honk at me, I had to wait for the bike to ride by."

Hopefully the honkers felt somewhat contrite now that they'd seen the biker. BUT, now the biker heard honking and saw a finger pointed out an open window at him. He reacted poorly. "F*** You!", he shouted after his shoulder at her.

She was still only most way through the intersection, her arm still pointing out the window, though now sagging in defeat. "No I was just trying to point AT you, so they'd know you were there...." But he was busy riding away in offense. I was outraged for her. She finished her turn and drove away, followed by the impatient cars behind her.

I saw so many lacks of understanding and miscommunications, all piled up into that intersecton. I wanted to leap out of my car, gather them all around, and explain everything so it would all be quite clear.

"She was making sure you crossed safely, that's the only reason she pointed, so don't swear at her!"
"She was saving a life, didn't you see her point? All that honking was unnecessary and disruptive."
"Honking when you're too far away to see what's going on is rude and doesn't ever help a situation."
"You did exactly the right thing, you're the only one, even if none of those losers out there saw it. You did it good."

But my light had turned green, and all of the elements of the small drama had turned their weary vehicles toward work.... so I did the same.
read 6 comments | talk to me!
johnridley From: johnridley Date: April 26th, 2007 12:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
The more I experience and read about traffic, the more the inevitable conclusion is cemented in my head; most people on the roads are behaving like morons, and the best you can do is to be alert and take care of yourself, and ignore honking and yelling. Until people start throwing things at me or running me down, I'm not paying much attention to their noise.

There are occasionally posts by people on BikeForums by new riders who just got yelled at for the first time and are upset about it. The universal advice is to grow their skin thick, and realize that hardly any car drivers have any clue what the rules are for bicycles on the road (or they misinterpret them if they do), so just ignore them. Oh, and carry a camera phone to snap plate numbers in case someone starts acting dangerously.

I guess I'm not at all surprised that the cyclist didn't really know what was going on behind him. When traffic is rolling, I keep close tabs on what's going on behind, but when stopped at a light, I can't really see anything except the car behind me anyway so I just watch the light. I'd assume he wasn't terribly experienced though, for two reasons; one, he actually cared in any way about getting pointed at, and two, it took him much longer than a car would to get across the intersection. I am NOT a fast cyclist but I almost always beat cars across intersections.
mbumby From: mbumby Date: April 26th, 2007 02:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
There's also the "...I'm not sure if his light was green; I suspect it wasn't..." bit. So the cyclist may well have been crossing against the light. (I didn't quite get a good enough picture of what was going on, which direction he was moving in, to understand that.) Unfortunately there are cyclists who flaunt their perceived invulnerability rather than living by the "just like a car" motto I got as a child. These ones give the ones out there who know and obey the rules a bad name.
renniekins From: renniekins Date: April 26th, 2007 02:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
He was facing the woman who wanted to turn left. i.e., they were going toward each other, but her turning left would have crossed his path.

If the light had just turned green for everyone, he would have had the right of way as somebody going forward. But I think the left turn arrow turns green there before the rest of traffic's light.... hence I *think* he didn't have a green, but I'm not certain of what the lights do there.
johnridley From: johnridley Date: April 26th, 2007 03:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
If he was crossing against the light and blocking the woman from turning left, then 100% the cyclist is wrong, and some day he's going to be dead wrong.

I was coming up to a light behind another cyclist a few days ago. I stopped behind traffic, but the other guy filtered up on the right (at a T intersection where there is no right turn lane and a LOT of cars turn right, often without signaling), and then he coasted into the intersection just as it was turning green. Cyclists running lights and breaking laws REALLY irritate me, because many car drivers see that kind of thing and use it as an excuse to bundle all cyclists into the "annoying scofflaw punks" category.

Of course, when I actually talk to someone about this, and I mention that if you stood by a stop sign and watched, I'd be surprised if more than 5% of car drivers slow to even 5 MPH at a stop sign when there's no cop around, they generally change the subject.

But the most irritating and dangerous drivers are the ones who are too nice and try to wave cyclists through, giving right-of-way improperly. If you want to get cyclists killed, doing unpredictable things like that is a good way to do it. But again, it's probably caused by the morons blowing lights, because the drivers don't think they can trust the cyclist to actually stop at a stop sign, so they assume all cyclists are going to blow signs and lights and wave them through. So the scofflaw cyclists are not just making drivers dislike all cyclists, they're indirectly contributing to the roads being less safe for all cyclists in the future as well.
renniekins From: renniekins Date: April 26th, 2007 02:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
He wasn't a "cyclist" so much as a "guy on a bike". He was riding on the sidewalk, and slowly.

But that still doesn't mean the person turning left should have hit him, so I approve of her waiting. But it also certainly doesn't mean he should have sworn at her for pointing at him!
ellison From: ellison Date: April 26th, 2007 06:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
I see stuff like that a lot, and I always feel the same as you did! I just want to stop everything and fix it. It's hard when you see exactly how things are being misinterpreted and can't do anything about it.

The other day I was trying not to hit a cyclist, a car got impatient, honked at me, then CUT ME OFF, getting dangerously close to my car AND the cyclist, I honked at that car (maybe dumb, but the guy scared the crap out of me, and I wanted to call attention to the dangerousness of his driving!), and the cyclist held up his middle finger. At first I was totally irate, like, "Hey cyclist, I was trying to help you!" but then I realized maybe he was flipping off the other guy. Who knows. I hate all the honking and flipping of birds and dangerous driving. BLAH! Sometimes I really hate driving.
read 6 comments | talk to me!