I haven’t been riding my bike in recent weeks. Most of this is probably due to laziness but I’ve also been concerned about my safety on the roadways as a cyclist. Over the past couple of years I’ve had a few close calls that made me sweat a bit; motorists coming quite close to me even though I’m over as far away from the driving lanes as I can safely be without losing control of the bicycle in the dirt or some random person’s lawn.
I’ve been walking every morning to somewhat compensate for the change in exercise patterns. We live on a former country road that has been developed with apartment complexes and housing developments up the hill from us. The posted speed limit is 45 miles per hour. The county will occasionally post one of those electronic speed meter signs that tell motorists how fast they are driving. When that’s up and monitoring traffic, folks still come down the hill well over 45 MPH. I wouldn’t mind their excessive speed as much if they were safely driving the vehicle, but in the morning hours there are folks fiddling with their phone, putting on makeup, shaving, etc as they make their way down our hilly and somewhat curvy road.
The shoulders of the roadway are four feet wide with two feet of pavement and two feet of dirt. If there is no oncoming traffic I walk on the paved portion but remaining on my side of the white line delineating the driving lane from the shoulder. If there is traffic coming along I move over to the dirt portion. Many sections of the road around us are flanked by a three foot deep ditch immediately off the shoulder so that’s why I try to stay on the shoulder as much as possible.
Now, I realize that this particular road wasn’t designed for pedestrians, it was designed for vehicles so that’s why I do my best to stay as safe as possible while I’m making my way to a quieter street about a mile away from the house. However, over the past year, and especially the past six months, I can’t help but notice the degradation in driving habits as exhibited by these fine folks flying down the hill making their way to wherever they feel they need to be.
This next portion of this blog entry may sound sexist and ageist and the like but the fact of the matter is I’m making honest observations based on a small sampling of the drivers coming down the roadway in the morning.
1. Young girls will be wearing aviator sunglasses, have their hair tied up into some sort of arrangement on the top of their head and will rarely be looking at the road. It could be before sunrise but they still have their sunglasses on. They are enthralled with whatever is going on on their phone at the moment and driving the motor vehicle comes secondary. They will be over the white line, they will oversteer the curve, glance up to see why there’s dirt flying around and then resume their primary objective, playing on their phone. I jump into a ditch.
2. Young men will do anything they can (hat turned sideways, scruffed up fuzz, tattoos all over, gold chains, etc) to look contrary to their middle to upper-middle class upbringing, have some sort of low riding vehicle that basically turns into a hockey puck in the winter and will have their seat slung back so far that they have no hope of seeing more than six inches off the front of the car. They casually glance at their phone as they look around to make sure people are looking at them. The bright side of this equation is that they’ll slow down to 5 MPH to cross the railroad tracks because anything faster will rip out any and everything on the bottom of the vehicle. Like their female counterparts, they are too busy doing other things, will oversteer the curves and I’ll end up jumping in a ditch. They, too, wear their sunglasses at night.
3. There’s one middle aged guy driving a BMW that is always shaving. Always. Every day. He drives by, he’s shaving. He slows down for the school bus, he’s shaving. This supports my claim that men that shave with electric shavers are highly disorganized, lazy people that have little disregard for their appearance, the people around them and any sort of common sense. It’s about him and only him. As he tries to get that spot under his nose, he’ll oversteer the curves and I’ll have to jump in the ditch.
4. The old woman that drives somewhere at 7 a.m. every day has her own story. She’s lucky to know what country she’s in let alone worry about keeping the damn vehicle between the white lines. She’s moving at 20 MPH (somehow she has the vehicle moving nearly sideways), giving me plenty of time to jump in the ditch when she oversteers the curve and brushes by the bushes in front of the neighbor’s house, scaring the occupants and sending me cursing.
5. One of the two biggest competitions for motorists in this area is to see how long of an empty trailer they can tow behind their truck without dragging the ass end of their F150 onto the pavement. There’s never anything in these trailers, they’re just empty as they get towed behind these big trucks. Being in a lower income area of the state, I can only assume that these empty trailers are to be considered in the same way as rich men driving Hummers. They’re dick extenders. They oversteer the curves, the empty trailer swings around a bit and I end up jumping in the ditch.
6. The other biggest competition for motorists in this area is to see at what young age they can get a handicapped sticker hanging from their mirror. They can’t see the line because they have this big ass handicapped placard hanging down the middle of their windshield, guaranteeing them a parking spot close to the corral of electric scooters at the market, and thus they oversteer the curve and I end up jumping in the ditch.
7. And last, but not least, there’s school bus 380, which makes multiple trips through the area picking up children that are sitting on the corner tapping at their phones. School bus 380 comes barreling down the hill well above the posted 45 MPH speed limit. The driver then jumps on the brakes when he realizes the railroad tracks are still there, same as yesterday, and he must stop. Sneaky railroad tracks. A casual glance inside the bus reveals school aged children hurled forward with their heads in a downward position. They must be looking at their phones as they endure this gaiety.
I don’t think it’s unreasonable for me to walk along a highway when there is theoretically plenty of space for me to do so. I could go on with my rant but my blood pressure is up now and I need to calm down a little bit.