24 December 2007

Things people say, No. 4

Posted by todd under: Riding; Riding in the Bluegrass; Things people say .

DO PEOPLE EVER TRY TO RUN YOU OFF THE ROAD?

RESPONSE: I have found drivers to be polite, overall. Occasionally someone will honk, or a driver will holler at me to get off the road, but even that is rare.

In 6-plus years of bicycle commuting I have had two serious incidents, and one that was scary and could have been serious. All three of them happened on the University of Kentucky campus.

The scary one happened on Shawneetown Drive. A Lextran bus nearly ran me down from behind — the driver just barely missed clipping the edge of my handlebar. I caught up with him at the stop sign at Shawneetown and Alumni Drive, and yelled at him to watch it. He yelled back something to the effect of YOU watch it. While I was writing down his bus number and route, he hollered something else at me. I wrote a letter to Lextran, then received a nice reply stating that the driver basically denied my version of events. I hope my letter is still in his file.

At least he missed me, and he might have thought he was giving me enough room. I think it was inattentiveness or incompetence, and not malice. I can’t say that about the next two events.

Once while riding on University Drive late at night, after finishing work on second shift, someone threw a box of bottles out a car window and hit me in the back. I knew the car was behind me but did not know something was being thrown. I did not go down.

Another time, in almost the exact same spot, someone leaned out the passenger’s-side window of a van and shoved me in the back, with two hands. I didn’t go down that time either. Having learned from the first experience, I got a partial license-plate number and called it in to campus police. I did not follow up to see what happened.

The fact that I have ridden late at night a lot, due to the second shift, probably has increased my odds of having a run-in with a jerk.

Still, even in broad daylight there have always been, and there will always be, jerks on the road. The only way to avoid them is to not ride (or drive). I refuse to let them run my life.

3 Comments so far...

Laura Says:

24 December 2007 at 1:29 pm.

Hey Todd,

Just thought I’d insert a comment and let you know that I read your blog. I’m not a big biker or anything, but I read because it’s fun and interesting to see what you have to say about things. :) Keep up the good work!

Laura D.

Frank Says:

25 December 2007 at 11:45 am.

I haven’t had anybody say anything to me, but I was clipped by a full-sized van on a paved county road. The passenger-side mirror hit my elbow. I didn’t go down, but thr force traveled trhough my body down to bend the rear wheel. The driver did stop, was quite shaken up, and did pay for both the straightening of the wheel and a new one to hold in reserve.

nate Says:

26 December 2007 at 11:07 pm.

Don’t go down brother, it just gives them more to laugh at. I really enjoy your writing and am glad you have chosen this medium to share with us. I am not a bicycler, as my slowly expanding girth will attest to, but I like to read about it. Thanks for the laghs.

Nate

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Yes, that's me, Todd Van Campen. No, I'm not wearing a helmet. Yes, I usually wear one, so please don't scold! Seriously, I endorse wearing a helmet! Pinky swear! In fact, I almost ALWAYS wear one (while riding a bike anyway). (On the other hand, if YOU don't want to wear a helmet, I have no problem with it.) I don't remember what happened on this particular day. Fortunately for all of us it makes for a less-nerdly picture. My exceptionally talented professional photographer friend Charles Bertram took this photo.

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I asked my 6-year-old son, Caleb, an avid bicyclist and artist, to draw a bike for me. I think he did a great job!

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