We’ve been back on the tandem! Three weeks in a row now, and we hope to keep it up -if I can wangle a leave pass from netball again that is. A joke we made on the weekend about our (lack of) social life has led to a new (but perfect!) term for our time together on our bicycle built for two: “Speed dating.” (Think about it!)
So on Saturday we went speed dating – and did our ‘civilised’ ride into town to meet up with the earlybird (6.30am) Community Ride cyclists at 8.00 when they arrive back at the mall for coffee. Our ‘date’ is to ride 23km into town, have coffee, a bite to eat, and a chat, and then ride the 23km back home up the highway again – just in time for Himself to drive the girls to netball.
Unfortunately, part and parcel of being a cyclist who rides any distance is that you cop abuse from motorists who don’t know the road rules.
On Saturday we copped a doozy, with a karmic twist, you might say. I was that fired up about it, that I wrote a letter to the editor of the local paper. It is way too long, so probably won’t get published… So, in the interests of self-publication, and lack of time (!), rather than rehash it as a blog post, I’ll copy it here:
An experience on the weekend leads me to beg all road users to refresh their knowledge of their road rules. Like it or not, bicycles are classed as vehicles, and as such are actually allowed to be on the road. Blowing your horn and yelling abuse to a slower moving vehicle in the lane in front of you, but following the road rules appropriately, is actually not ok.
Local business owners in particular might like to take the opportunity to ensure that their employees are up to speed with their road rule knowledge. On Saturday morning my husband and I were riding our tandem in town, obeying the road rules as we waited at the lights at [.. a major intersection], and then headed north on the highway. In the short distance under the railway bridge, we were ‘honked’ and then abused by the occupants of a truck carrying the identification of a local company, simply because we were on the road.
Karma is a strange thing. We are about to start major house renovations. Guess which company will now not be given an opportunity to quote on a significant supply and fix job? And guess which company name will inevitably be mentioned when we share that particular experience with friends and fellow cyclists?
And guess which truck just so happened to end up parked just up the road from our house later that morning? My husband took the opportunity to let the driver know that his knowledge of the road rules needs updating. (The passenger responsible for the verbal abuse also did not know that you are only allowed to ride your bike on the footpath – where he thought we should have been – if you are under 12 or supervising an under-12).
I am still trying to decide whether to let the business owner know as well.
Before receiving a tirade of letter abuse in response, I would add that, just as a percentage of motor vehicle drivers do the wrong thing on the road, I acknowledge that there are indeed cyclists who give the rest of us a bad name by doing the wrong thing on the roads. As a motorist AND cyclist, I’ll get cranky with either!
I would also acknowledge that when we are riding we also experience some great courtesy from drivers. A big thank you to all those trucks and cars who do give riders some room and some breathing space.
A quick Google of ‘nsw road rules bicycles’ and a read through the Bicycle Safety section of the RTA road safety information is recommended reading for all of us who use the roads.
I just sent a copy to my friend who works in the smaller local paper. Maybe I’ll get some mileage out of it. If I can enlighten a handful of people about the actual road rules, then I will have achieved something.
I just wish I’d been a fly on the wall of the car when Himself spotted the exact same truck in our street. He was.. what can I say .. not aggressive.. but .. ‘firm’. And I think he may have left him stewing about whether I am going to ring his boss!
But what are the chances of seeing that exact truck a couple of hours later – in our street?!
That’s what I call karma.