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Wednesday
Nov182009

Just as long as it doesn't have pedals

The late and great George Carlin said:

"If I am driving at a given speed, anyone who passes me is a Maniac, and anyone driving slower than me is a Moron."

The only reason this is funny is because it is the truth; a trait in human nature that we can all relate.

The other day I observed a guy on an old beat up moped. The engine was screaming, smoke billowed from the exhaust, and he was driving at about 20 mph in the center of the lane on a busy main street.

There was no doubt from the sound of the engine, that this was the top speed this two wheeled clunker was capable of.

Cars were just following along behind him in a slow procession; no one was honking at him. Traffic was backed up at least a mile, and drivers that were at least six cars back were oblivious to the cause of the hold up anyway.

They were all just calmly following this guy on a moped, and I wondered, what if that were a cyclist riding down the center of the lane at 20 mph?

There would be a medley of car horns blowing, people would be screaming abuse from their open car windows.

Human nature would kick in, a cyclist is someone who must be passed. It doesn't matter if the cyclist is doing close to 25 mph in a 25 mph speed zone.

It doesn't matter if the cyclist is doing 50 mph, plus, down a winding mountain pass. Where it is not safe for a car to travel at above fifty, the cyclist must be passed.

On the other hand, put a motor on the bicycle, electric or gasoline, just as long as the pedals are not going round, and it has some magic calming effect on following drivers.

The actual speed at which the moped or scooter is traveling has no bearing on the situation. Human nature and human behavior is indeed strange.

 

Reader Comments (6)

.."a cyclist is someone who must be passed." How often I have said this same thing Dave! I've had people pass me on blind curves, where I am taking the lane at or above the speed limit - 35mph. It is one of the mysteries of being a cyclist. We are that which MUST be passed.
A car gives one such a sense of entitlement, and is so insulating from its suroundings that I admit to - at times - having to consciously remind myself to be extra careful around cyclists on the roads here. I'm getting better, and my response is getting more automatic. But, if this can be a bit of a struggle for myself, and I ride over a thousand miles here during the 4-6 months available - then how much harder must it be for those who do not ride bikes?

November 18, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterskylab

Great post. A couple of years ago I was riding on a very narrow lane out in the polders. I could hear a car behind me waiting to pass for quite a while, but couldn't find a good spot to pull over safely so pushed harder so as to not delay things. Maybe 2k later I finally pulled into a small cutout to let the car pass, and realized there was another car behind the first, and about ten more after that. They were all old Aston Martins, apparently a club out for a Sunday run. I'd probably been holding up a couple million dollars worth of vintage sports cars! I waved appreciatively at seeing these nice old machines and received a number of complimentary honks in return. Cool.

November 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTim

Someone on Cycle-Chat who rides a recumbent was passed at 30+ miles an hour - the driver was going quick enough that he set off a speed enforcement camera.

He gave the hapless recumbent rider an earful, saying it had been his fault that he was speeding, as he "had to" overtake a bicycle. Something about driving switches off the brain, I think.

November 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJohn the Monkey

This is a great post. Something i see all the time as a bike commuter. The other day i was doing 25 mph (the posted speed limit) and was actually passing a car that was in the other lane. As soon as they noticed i was passing them on a bicycle they immediately sped up, even though there was a stop sign just ahead, causing them to need to slam on their brakes. Also, someone else tried passing me 40 ft before a stop sign, which 'forced' them to cut me off and almost run me over. I, too, do not understand this mentality of why people in cars must past cyclists, no matter what the situation is.

November 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRandy

So true Dave, we all have witnessed it.

November 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDANO

Excellent way to look at it - and we've all been there (unless the person behind you is also a cyclist!)

November 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJoby
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