Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Opposite of Aggressive Driving

We often dwell on negative encounters between motorists and bicyclists. And it certainly is angering. It seems so wrong, so brutal that someone could show such disregard for human life. That they could be so casual about the dangers posed by their 2 tons of speeding metal.

But for each of these instances, there are countless positive encounters. I can't remember the last time someone said or did something hostile toward me. (Knock on wood!) Instead, the drivers I encounter leave enough distance when they pass me, they wave me into traffic, they slow down so I can merge into their lane when mine is blocked. They say 'good morning'. At worst, they just treat me like another vehicle.

Is this a change in local attitude? Do I look like a nice girl that they want to help out? I don't know. Cascadina says that she was getting honked at until she started carrying her son around in a bike trailer. Now she gets waves and lots of questions. Anyone else noticing a change in attitude? The last time I encountered this kind of treatment, at least stateside, was a 2005 trip to Chicago.
Bicycle route from Logan Square to the Loop


  1. That must be nice, for it sure isn't the case in Charlotte. For a while, I always tried to look at the issue from both sides. But, after the last couple of rides I've been on, the people around here are some of the rudest I've ever encountered. I feel that on an average ride, I feel like my life is endangered 2 or 3 times. I don't know what these drivers are thinking, or not thinking. Do they not realize that they are seriously endangering another human being's life? It's incredibly scary driving around here. I'm glad to hear you have a better experience down there.

  2. Joshua - sorry to hear that. I was actually at a meeting this morning where they said that Charlotte has about 1/10th the number of bicycle commuters as Atlanta. I don't know how accurate that is... But I would say that Atlanta has gotten a lot better since I started cycling 5 or 6 years ago. Thank goodness -those close encounters are really scary. Hang in there, I guess!