Friday, May 4, 2012

Yo, cyclists: learn to wave, will ya?

Disclaimer: this is a gripe directed primarily at road cyclists on country highways. City cyclists, who definitely have their own issues, should keep their hands on the handlebars at all times, unless signalling a turn. “What's that?” you ask. “'Signalling a turn'? Qu'est-ce que c'est?” Oh, but don't get me started. Alright: back to the highways.

You road cyclists — what a surly, unsympathetic bunch you are. I should know: I've been in your number for the past five years, and counting.

When I first took to the highways and saw one of you approaching me from the opposite direction, I figured the cyclist's etiquette was that of the motorcyclist. You give a little wave, get a wave back, and off you both go, grateful for the smidgen of bon homie.

But no. When I waved, what I got in return was an impassive stare that all but said, “You're new here, aren't you — ass-wipe?”

And you wonder why motorists are antagonistic toward you from the git-go. They hate you — yet feel twinges of remorse every time a Monarch Butterfly gets smeared across their windshield. What accounts for this difference in empathy? For one thing, the butterfly had the decency to wave.

If you're a road cyclist reading this, there are two things I desperately wish you'd do. First and foremost, I wish you'd study up on the rules of the road so that, at the very least, you knew which rule you're breaking at any given time. Not infrequently, that's been all of them at once. And — I don't know, it must be all this fresh air you're inhaling — you have this sanctimonious smile on your face as you do it, too. Combine that with the outfit you're wearing, and it's no surprise people want you under their wheels.

The second thing I'd like every road cyclist to do is WAVE.

When should you wave? Whenever some middle-aged putz on a bike is approaching you from the opposite direction, grinning and waving like a fool who hopes you'll be his friend, would be a good start.

But the most important time to wave is: whenever a vehicle passes you.

Why? Because you're acknowledging being acknowledged, even if only by a few crucial feet. “But,” I hear you whine, “I have a right to that road just as much as any gravel truck.” Calm down. You think I don't know that? I know that — I've studied up on the rules of the road. But you are a bigger pain in the ass than any gravel truck.

Speaking from personal experience: most gravel truck drivers wait for the passing lane to clear before they pass me. If that doesn't deserve acknowledgement, I don't know what does. Look for that all-important side mirror, and give him a wave, dammit. Make his day just a little easier to bear.

Oh, but those motorists have such a chip on their shoulders — almost as large as the one we cyclists lug around. It's time to thaw the cold war, kiddies. Let motorists know you don't begrudge their presence on the road, even if that's a bald-faced lie. Fact is, we've got to share, and as I learned the hard way in kindergarten, a little friendliness goes a long way to helping others share with you.

So go on, give 'em a wave and a phoney smile. The motorists behind that gravel truck will all see your graciousness, and it'll be good for 'em. In fact, it might just save your life. And who knows? It might even save the life of that snooty lycra-clad rebel-without-a-clue further up the road.

1 comment:

DarkoV said...

Love it! The only wave I've ever rec'd as i patiently wait to pass is a middle-fingered salute. It's good to know there are folks out there, Darrell, who actually use all five fingers.