Wednesday, September 16, 2009

People Amaze Me

What is it about cycling that makes some people completely lose the ability to think or behave reasonably? While reading over at Cyclelicious, I came across a car review of the Tessla, written by James Martin. James Martin is a professional chef, and from his writings, a bit of a wanker (he is a British chef, thus the British slang. In American, the word "jackass" could be substituted). In his review, he writes that his favorite aspect of the electric Tessla, was how quiet it was. It allowed him to sneak up on cyclists so that he could honk at them and terrify them into running into a hedge.

I should be screaming mad over this. But to be honest, I am just sad, because this crap happens all the time. There was the firefighter that shot a cyclist in the head for riding with a child. Or the drunk who plowed through a pelaton of racers in Mexico (called a "terrible accident"). We covered the hit and run of Andrew Bennett and his son, here in San Francisco.

This is the Bay Taxi cab driver that tried to push me off the road so he could make a right turn. His excuse- there was no bike lane, so it was my fault for being in his way. His boss at the taxi company felt much the same way.

This kind of thing happens all the time, to people on and off bicycles. With the proliferation of electronic communication we get wind of it way more often. So I find myself shaking my head quite a bit, these days.

Having written this, I would like to share a positive story, and I encourage you to do the same (after you contact Tesla about your feelings of the above review)-

I was riding home with my 40 lb monkey, the other day, and of course, this being San Francisco, I was riding uphill into the wind (cue the violins). I had started out tired and I wasn't getting any less so, which means a lot less stopping if I can help it. As I came to an intersection with a stop sign, I saw there was a couple about to start crossing the road in front of me, so I started to slow down to stop for them. The couple saw me at this moment, stopped crossing, and the man waved me on with a smile, yelling over the wind "Don't stop! Keep your momentum!". This was a couple of months ago and I still remember what he looked like and how greatfull I was at that moment of exhaustion.

Remember the good times and keep riding, people!


  1. > "James Martin is a professional chef, and from his writings, a bit of a wanker (he is a British chef, thus the British slang. In American, the word 'jackass' could be substituted)."

    Actually, no. The term "wanker" suggests that Mr. Martin is given to compulsive masturbation. I am not sure you meant that, and I am very sure that "jackass" is not a good substitute.

  2. In my experience, it applies. My very English father would have certainly called Mr. Martin a "wanker", and possibly a few other things, as well : )

  3. I lived in England for 4 years; "wanker" applies : )

    That is a nice story about the people waving you through. In the Boston area, I sometimes get very nice and encouraging comments from people in cars.

  4. Yep, he's definitely a wanker! ;-)

  5. update A, chef is saying that the article was intended to be a "humorous" piece... blah, blah, BLAH~~ he's apologizing.

  6. A variation on this happened to me last night. Honking and passing me with less than a foot to spare. Luckily I didn't fall, but I couldn't help but wonder if the driver thought he lived in a video game or something?

    Watching driver and pedestrian behavior, I've started to wonder if they think that if they don't see us, we won't really be there. I've had more pedestrians jump out into the street in front of me without looking -- do they think I can't hit them if they don't acknowledge my presence? Do drivers think that if they hit us, it doesn't really count?

    As a cyclist, I have to confront the fact that traffic is not a game on a daily basis. I wish other participants would start doing the same.

  7. Oh no... I really hope nobody shoots me for biking with baby Dexter;(

    I'll make sure to wear a helmet too.


  8. @op- I think that is part of the problem. I also think that most people never really think through their actions and give any weight to their impact on others. We live in a very unconscious world.

    @Miss Sarah- Just wear your magic mom powers on your sleeve and you will be fine! They work well for me, haven't been shot yet : )

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  10. Does anyone agree with me that things go better sitting up straight, that being able to make eye contact and even smile occasionally really helps in relations with other traffic.

    I'm exploring all this in my new bike blog on the block. Mike rubbo

  11. I forgot to put the URL of my new bike blog coming from just north of Sydney, Aust.

    Cheers, Mike Rubbo

  12. Mike- It totally makes a difference. When I ride my road bikes I get yelled at and doored and cut off all the time. My experience of riding through the City is very aggressive. When I ride on my Batavus, I have very few negative interactions with drivers, especially if I have my son on the back.

    Upright bikes humanize riders by showing the world our faces and making eye contact inevitable. When I am stopped at lights, people in cars always smile and frequently roll down the window to chat for a moment.

    Thanks for the link! I loved the short film you did on Ann, and have thought of posting it here! Keep it up!

  13. "chef is saying that the article was intended to be a "humorous" piece... blah, blah, BLAH~~ he's apologizing."

    Oh, right: one of those graceless "apologies" that sounds like it's coming from between gritted teeth and manages to express a complete lack of regret or contrition.

    He'd be better off keeping his bloody mouth shut and taking the kicking he deserves.

    And yes, he is a wanker.

  14. It is so easy to confuse affable geniality with genuine goodness, a mistake my girlfriend and I made with Mr Martin before the Tesla incident.

    I live within cycling distance of him and can confirm that he is without doubt the most heinous wanker ever to darken the roads of Hampshire.

    May his career wither along with his manhood and leave him alone with nothing but his inflated ego and a heart full of belated regrets.

  15. Great job. I admire all your hard work. Just the work posting makes me tired and you were great to share all your knowledge. Truly looks professional.