Out riding with my wife this morning on our local bike path, I encountered a couple of guys I see all the time riding the same path.
At a guess they are both fifty something and ride in street clothes, on fairly decent hybrid bikes with upright handlebars and skinny tires.
The path is about 12 feet wide and one thing I notice is that one rides on one edge of the path and the other on the opposite side, then hold a loud conversation across this gap as they ride.
This makes it difficult to pass; and I have to call out several times to get their attention over their loud exchange.
It occurred to me that this is exactly how many cyclists ride on the road, and I wondered why that is. My wife and I ride side by side and take up half the path, leaving the other half for other walkers and cyclists.
Is it inexperience, and they don’t feel comfortable riding at close quarters, or is it like when two guys go to the movies together, and they leave an empty seat between them as a “We’re not gay” statement.
The bike trail follows a canal and there are two places where the path crosses a street. In both cases the path switches from one side of the canal to the other, meaning that you have to turn onto the road, ride across a bridge, then turn back on to the path on the opposite side.
This morning we caught these two guys as we approached one of these street crossings. I could hear cars coming but the two in front did not slow but just continued at their same steady pace across the road and made a left turn in front of three approaching cars.
All three cars had to brake and slow to follow these two, still riding two abreast across the bridge before they made a right back on the path again.
Would it have hurt them to stop, and wait for the traffic to pass first before crossing, rather that suddenly appearing on the road from a bike path? Surely this would seem the sensible approach.
I imagine both these guys own cars and I wondered, why it is when a person gets on a bike, they behave in a completely different manner than when they drive. I doubt either would pull out from a side road ahead of close approaching traffic; most drivers would and wait until the road is clear.
Is it that as teens they rode a bike and were never taught how to ride in traffic? As a result when they get back on a bike later in life they don’t see themselves as a vehicle, they can’t seem to grasp that there are rules and protocol to be followed.
How often do we see a young kid on a BMX bike ride diagonally across a busy street dodging cars in both directions? They are young enough, sharp and agile enough that in most cases they get away with it.
Plus people tend to cut some slack when it comes to a juvenile; no one wants to hit a kid. But when a person continues riding in this manner as an adult, and it is only a matter of time before it will catch up with them.
As I said at the beginning, these two guys are regulars on the path; I even spoke with them on one occasion. They seem like intelligent people and it is a mystery to me, why some seem to lose all common sense, the moment they throw their leg over a bike.
I’m trying to figure out how to tactfully ask them that question the next time I see them