Archive for September, 2010

Introducing Joy Blocking Motorists

September 28, 2010

Everyone knows about the dreaded Right Hook which is when a motorist, approaching an intersection, will overtake a cyclist then turn into and “hook” them.

In this context hook means “crash into”.

There are many ways of avoiding the right hook such as riding further to the left into the lane, and checking behind one’s left side before entering and intersection.

I try to do all of them, but there’s still the chance that a motorist is going to go even further over to the left and to drive so fast, they literally appear out of nowhere after you have checked.

Obviously, after an auto careens in front of you, the only choice you have is to brake to enable the faster vehicle to execute a turn, and perhaps yell or ring a bell. I have done this many, many times, and I am still alive enough to type this.

When you get really good at it, you can even tap your brakes just a hair, giving them time to make your turn then you can continue upon your merry way.

However, there’s an even stranger breed out there. I say stranger because the Right Hook does make some kind of sense: the motorist is in a hurry, and you aren’t important enough to see. “I wasn’t _looking_ for bicycles.”

That’s OK.

The stranger breed, I like to call Joy Blockers (originally CB, but I want to include everyone).

The Job Blocker will go for a Right Hook, fly right in front of you. Like a good cyclist who doesn’t want to die just yet, you hit the brakes and come to a stop.

But surprise, they were just fooling you. They saw you all along.

Thus, after positioning themselves right in front of you, they slam on their brakes.

I have no idea why they do this.

Better still, just to show you how much they care, they sit there blocking your way EVEN AFTER YOU COME TO A COMPLETE STOP AND START MOTIONING AND YELLING FOR THEM TO TAKE THE RIGHT OF WAY THAT THEY APPROPRIATED.

They sit and sit and sit. In your way.

Why do they do this, dear God why?

If you have a rear view mirror, and ride in San Diego, you’ll see many motorists wait behind you for the 3 seconds it takes to rush through the intersection then safely make their turn. The driver above could have done this. They could have went in for a right hook like an Real Adult.

No, they just wanna get in your way. Some of them even motion for you to go.

For me, this is a no go because sometimes you go and then they go to, and now you are in the meat grinder.

My guess for their motivation is the Grinch’s 3 Second Heart Theory. That is, they are mean and greedy, and they just think of themselves and the juicy 3 seconds they will save while they do their NASCAR Right Hook.

Then, in the time it takes for them to pass you, their heart grows three times bigger, and they decide that they want to yield instead.

The fact that you saw them and took appropriate action and are ready to let by gones be by gones completely escapes them.

No, they are a Nice PersonTM, and they will let you go, damnit. So go like a nice obedient child. Sneak into the meat gringer and hope I didn’t stop to check directions or fix my mascara and will be moving along WITHOUT LOOKING–this happens all the time.

Today, I have a New Plan that saves all this stress.

I call it the Left Hook.

If they come and try to Joy Block or Right Hook or some other stupid motorist nonsense, look over your left shoulder and pass them on the left.

Yes, this is pretty lame and simple, but now that I have learned this trick, my commute has gone from happy to double plus happy.


Tribute to Bike Zero

September 7, 2010

I’d like to take a break from the usual level of anger and screeds to spin a more positive story.

When I’m done, I promise that I’ll get back to the regularly scheduled complaining.

For some reason, I have been reevaluating every aspect of my life. I don’t know why, but perhaps it’s because I am going through my mid-life crisis.

In my thoughts, I have been looking at what’s been working in my life and what’s not working.

Cycling is definitely one of those things that is working very, very well.

It makes me extremely happy, and I cycle as much as possible. It turns ordinary errands into adventures. I attribute bicycling more than any other thing for keeping me looking and feeling younger than others my age even more so than my complete and utter lack of maturity.

How did all this magic happen?

I have to go back to the first place that I lived after I left home in the ghetto of North Philadelphia.

Since having a car was expensive, risky, and unnecessary, I didn’t have one. This was good b/c my classmates spent the majority of their time complaining about car related issues.

I mainly took the subway everywhere which was really exciting at the time especially when some of my classmates got mugged there.

One day, a great friend of mine bought me a bicycle: an old three-speed from the thrift store for $10. He fixed it up so it was ridable and gave it to me.

It was no speed demon, but Philly is really flat, and the distances were short.

One day, he came over w/ his bicycle, and we took a ride to the Italian Market which took us through the worst parts of the Bad Lands.

I thought that the ride was going to suck, but my fears were all unnecessary. The traffic was light (really poor city people have few cars) and nobody bothered us. Plus the ride was really entertaining especially that drunk dude that wandered around the middle of a street.

I didn’t know it then, but I had taken the first sniff of the cocaine that was going to be life long cycling commuting.

There are a lot of wrinkles between then and there, but the upshot is that from then on, I always had a bicycle, and I rode it as much as possible.

The only thing that really changed was the quality of my bicycle is much improved, and I ride much longer distances than I thought practicable.

Though I think about my love for cycling daily, I never give the guy who kicked off this life long dream: Karl.

Thanks Karl for making me smoke that crack. Without you I’d be a flat slob.