Welcome to the first of a the inaugural “You might be an asshole” series, where we’ll explain how actions taken during normal everyday activities can reveal who is, and who is not, an asshole.
This edition will focus on cycling, because after two fairly long rides this past Saturday, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting, or learning about several different types of assholes, as it relates to sharing the road with cyclists.
Violating the 3-foot rule
On Saturday’s morning ride, I noticed three times that a motorist drove by me at really high rates of speed, well within the 3-foot required space. I saw it a couple more times on my afternoon ride.
Maybe they did it on accident. Maybe they were on their cell phone – Whatever the reason, it’s obnoxious. There are many good reasons for motorists to follow the 3-foot rule. It’s a reasonable amount of space to give a cyclist. They are vulnerable. If you hit them, even with your mirror, they are probably going to die or at best be very severely injured. And why – because you can’t slide over a bit or wait for oncoming traffic because that will slow you down by 10 seconds? Because you there’s oncoming traffic, and you just can’t wait for it to pass before your try to squeeze your car or truck between that oncoming car and a pack of cyclists?
Certainly, though one of the reasons to follow the 3-foot rule is not because of the tough penalties you’ll face if you violate it and kill someone. No, you’ll get a ticket like this guy. Or if it’s really serious, you’ll get 60 days in jail for killing someone, so you can go out and violate all the traffic laws all over again.
Honking seems like the right thing to do.
It is NOT the right thing to do.
I might cut people slack on this. Maybe they want to alert them to their presence on the road. Maybe they want to send a friendly hello to someone who also enjoys moving up and down the state’s road. Some people, I’m sure, just get a kick out of scaring the daylights out of cyclists with a quick push on the steering wheel.
Let me tell you what happens when a car honks at us. We freak out. I mean really freak out. We probably swerve to the right, to get away from you. Then we’ll swerve back left so we don’t fall off the road and crash. If we manage all that without either moving off the road or into you, our hearts skip a beat and we have to catch our breath.
A horn is the universal sound of “I need you to do something different than what you’re doing right now.” So when we hear it, we do something different, and it’s often not good.
Please, please, please, don’t honk.
Texting and driving. Or Facebook and driving.
Or really doing anything that might lead you to drift off the road, or prevent you from seeing a cyclist or pedestrian. I see a lot of this, and it’s really scary. I can’t tell you how many drivers I’ve seen bolt right past me with their noses buried in their phones. I’m certain they never saw me at all. I’m convinced I’ll die someday when a motorist answering a text message or checking his Facebook, plows into me and fails to realize it until he’s finished up that HILARIOUS status update.
Here’s a tip: While driving, give your phone to a small child whose brain isn’t fully developed, and pull up some surprise egg nonsense on Youtube. You can pay attention to the road, and your child can absorb some brain numbing video that will help keep them docile and unimaginative.
“Get off yer bike and pay road taxes like the rest of us. Roads are fer cars, and yer lill sissy bikes should be on a trail where it belongs.”
Yelling obscenities, flipping off cyclists, or otherwise making known your displeasure at the fact that you have slow down and share the road with a bicycle – that doesn’t even use gasoline – is a sure sign of assholishness.
I know there’s this idea out there that people who ride bikes are somehow cheating the highway system by not paying their fair share for the upkeep on the roads.
I’ll let you in on a secret though – We all also own cars! And we drive them. Sure we like to bike, but sometimes we have to haul stuff or people from place to place, just like you. And we go to work, sometimes far away, and sometimes the weather is awful and it wouldn’t make sense to bike. So we pull out our trusty internal combustion engine and motor on to where we need to be.
Just because we’re on a bike when you see us doesn’t mean we’re always on a bike – even though we’d probably like to be.
Rolling Coal. Or Coal Rolling. Or whatever the hell it is.
This is the practice performed by the drivers of diesel trucks, wherein they flood the intake system with fuel. It usually requires some modification to make it possible. Because the engine can’t burn it all, it dumps it into the exhaust system in the form of a big cloud of black smoke. It’s not needed. It’s a waste of fuel. It’s stupidly rude, and really it tells the world in the biggest way possible that you’re an asshole. Apparently, after reading up a little more on it, I’ve learned this is a form of protest often used against foreign cars, hybrid cars, small cars, bicycles, pedestrians. What are they protesting? I suppose emission requirements, because we all have a God-given right to blow smoke out our asses.
I take that back. This shows the world in the biggest way possible that you’re an asshole: Throwing things at a cyclist.
I have never experienced this, but a friend told me that she was once hit squarely on the back with full can of Pepsi, courtesy of a passing motorist.
Look, asshole, you suck on two counts here. One, you’re endangering someone’s life, and two, you’re littering.
There is never a good reason to throw anything at a cyclist, jogger, pedestrian, another motorist, or really anyone, ever. Unless you’re playing football or basketball or something, which you’re not, because you’re in a car. Probably texting. And cussing. And blowing coal or whatever the hell it is, and bitching about how you can’t believe you have to move over for a stupid bicycle.