Monday, March 10, 2014

How Long Is Three Minutes? To A Motorist, It Is An Eternity. To A Cyclist, It Can Be The Difference Between A Prosperous Life Or Bodily Harm.

Some motorists hate us.  They always will.  Then again, these same motorists hate all other motorists, too.  And, I strongly suspect these people secretly hate themselves, as well.  See, though there are enough on-line and print articles on the subject of “Not all motorists are jerks," remember this one, sobering fact: While it is indeed true not all motorists are out to “Get us,” it only takes one motor vehicle to change your life forever (and, not in a good way).

So, there I was… 

Out on one of my regular training rides, braving the Mean-Streets-of-Death, time, nor its conservation, was the focus of the moment.  I was simply enjoying the freedom of being on my bicycle, taking in all of the benefits of the outdoors and physical exercise.  That’s when my personal survival instinct kicked in, and I immediately pulled out of the bike lane I was in, pulled over to the curb, and I parked.

And, I waited.  And, I waited.  And, I waited some more.  The cars and trucks just kept on coming, without a break.  And, don’t think for a second anyone had “I need to give that cyclist three-feet for their safety,” on their minds, either.  In total, it took three minutes and change before I could safely merge left and take my chance at the signal.  

Why did this happen?  Well, there is this one section of Covina Boulevard, in the City of San Dimas, where you are truly at the mercy of the dumbest motorist-du jour.  It begins innocently enough with a wide, smooth, well marked, though street-sweeper challenged, section of bike lane (the City of San Dimas, and Covina, both seem quite unconcerned with regular street-sweeping service).  However, as you near the 57 Freeway heading eastbound on Covina Boulevard, one is faced with a choice, as the bike lane comes to an abrupt halt, and a “Right-Turn Only” lane begins, thus placing cyclists in a very dangerous position: Stay the course, and get a guaranteed ramming from the motorists coming up from behind you at 45 MPH-plus, all in a rush to make a right turn onto the 57 Southbound ramp, or merge left into the path of the same high-speed traffic and attempt to make it to the number two lane of eastbound Covina Boulevard to avoid getting on the freeway.

It is a dicey proposition at best, and a very deadly one at its worst.  

Two photos of the same location.  In the top photo, notice the light is green for me, however, I dared not assert my right-of-way and merge out of the right-turn-only lane at that time.  In the lower photo, see what was bearing down on me at very high speed.  The smart money was on waiting until all of these vehicles had passed until merging into Covina Boulevard's number two lane to continue straight, without having to merge onto the freeway.  It took over three minutes.

And, that is the whole point of the whole story.  I have heard from far too many motorist about having “…Been delayed by one of those darn cyclists…,” and truth be told, is it really an injustice to a motorist if they have to slow down to safely coexist on the road?  Of course it is not.  It is just selfishness by some being projected onto everyone else.  “I would have been there by now if it weren’t for this damn traffic.”  You can add cyclists into that mix of “Symptoms” of why traffic simply will not part like the Red Sera for some motorists. 

However, all is not lost.

Another example was laid bare last week on another one of my regular training rides.  There was a small, out the saddle, pitch on a particular section of the of a narrow, windy, two-lane road.  The young lady behind me was very patient, and when the road widened, she safely passed to my left.  No problems, no hassles, and between us, complete teamwork.  Her forward progress was interrupted for no more than ten-seconds.  Compare that with my being STOPPED for THREE MINUTES, and I think it is clear who is truly being inconvenienced out on the road.  However, right or wrong, one would be foolish to argue with a bumper.

Expect to be inconvenienced.

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