Sooooo I got pulled over the other day. Yes by a real cop. I was also *hangs head in shame* on my bicycle. Now why would I rather be pulled over in my car than on my bicycle you ask? Well honestly I’d rather not be pulled over at all but my reasons for my detesting it more on my bike than in a car are should probably be left to another post entirely. So back to my story…
The scene played out as follows: I was riding in a residential neighborhood, in the bike lane, down a slightly down-sloped road and I quit pedaling, coasted, took one hand off the handlebars & held my finger to one nostril, turned my head & blew my nose. I noticed, at the very moment of ‘snot ejecting’ that I was flying right through a stop sign. Oops! Good thing there wasn’t anyone around (or so I thought). I came to the next stop sign, slowed up, stood up on the pedals, came to a near track stand (the cyclist’s ‘stop’ at a stop sign) and seeing that there wasn’t anyone around, I let go of the breaks to continue on. However, the second I let go of the breaks to roll through, I heard the oh-so familiar ‘woop woop’ of a police officer’s car siren. Ah MAAAAAN.
The conversation went about as much as expected. I did admit that I blew through the previous stop sign because I was blowing my nose (not an excuse, just a reason) but that I did come to a ‘stop’ at the next one! I was honest and I smiled but alas in the end, I did receive a ticket (which apparently doesn’t affect your car insurance or go on your record because you are in fact, not driving a car) but I will have to pay some kind of fine. Fine.
Not long after that, I was at a restaurant bar for a quick dinner & to try their house-beer. There was a couple there who were ‘bikers’. I feel I should now explain the that there is in fact a definitive difference between a ‘cyclist’ and a ‘biker’. A cyclist is someone who rides a pedal bike wearing lycra. A biker is someone who rides a motorized bike wearing leather. At this point in the conversation they asked me what it is that I ‘do’. I paused and then said ‘Well, I race a bike and I coach cyclists’. ‘Really?!’ They proclaimed that they would never ride a bicycle but rather a motorcycle. In order to keep myself on good terms, I exclaimed that I do in fact have my motorcycle license but that I don’t own a motorcycle. Whew! I was saved. Oh but wait……
The couple and the bar tender proceeded to complain about cyclists. Their general disgust for us ‘taking up’ the road, making them wait, causing them to have to drive around us etc was quite apparent. Okay fine. But then….
They talked about how they heard someone drove up next to a whole group of cyclists (peloton) who were taking up the whole lane, opened their car door and took one of the cyclists out. They then started laughing.
Okay this is where I couldn’t just sit there and listen anymore. I looked quite seriously as them as said ‘You realize that’s assault with a deadly weapon don’t you?!’
The laughing and conversation quickly stopped. However, it wasn’t 15 seconds later when one of them waved their hand dismissing the gravity of my accusation and practically yelled ‘Well cyclists don’t obey any of the laws! They don’t stop at stop signs and they don’t signal!’
They were right. There are way too many of us who do that. It only takes one of us to completely blow through a stop sign or change lanes in traffic without politely signalling to turn the general public against us and further our difficulty in gaining a voice in legislature or sponsorship dollars for the sport in general. That doesn’t excuse their complete lack of humanity regarding an obviously life-threatening act. I still think I win. While I’ve always signaled my intent to turn or change lanes while riding my bike, I’ve also started ‘bike stopping’ at every stop sign.