Too Polite

I sincerely wish that drivers would treat me just another road user. Or at least ignore me, like they used to do twenty-years ago. Often though, I find that they go out of their way to treat me too well. From what I can tell, it is because they think I may do something crazy.

They assume I am just another unpredictable cyclist playing with his toy in traffic driving the wrong way with no lights or reflectors. Zipping through red lights and stop signs with aplomb. That sort of thing.

They don’t know what to do with a cyclist that follows the rules.

And what’s the safest way to deal with a crazy person that plays in traffic? That’s right. Maintain as much distance as possible from them and for heaven’s sake make sure the doors are locked.

So we all end up at busy all-way stop signed intersection. I wait my turn, two, three four cars ahead of me, two, three cars behind me.  And everything is rotating merrily along, but when I get to the front, everything stops. Three drivers all wave me to go. After all, they don’t want to be the one known to have killed a crazy person.

And what am I supposed to do except play the fool and go. If I wave to the person that was supposed to go, all three wave again. So everybody is waving, but nothing happens until I go.

Too polite.

5 replies
  1. Keri
    Keri says:

    Most drivers do seem to either hesitate or wave me through. I think it’s their way of removing the uncertainty… caused by so many cyclists running stop signs.

    The problem is that many cars have dark tinted windows. Sometimes it’s hard to detect that hand-movement. At 4-way stops with cars approaching from all directions, it adds a lot of unnecessary confusion. It would be safer and more efficient if everyone just followed the established ROW rules.

    I’m always a little uncertain at 4-way stops because I’ve stopped, yielded and started into the intersection before only to have some motorist roar up to the stop sign, full past the stop bar, slow, and start to accelerate without looking. Inevitably, they think I ran the stop sign because I wasn’t big enough to be detected by their inattentive, half-assed glance. (This has happened on the motorcycle, too.) It’s useful to recognize that where motorists aren’t expecting crossing traffic, they don’t really look.

  2. andrewp
    andrewp says:

    As things go, it’s not such a bad thing … I think car drivers like getting feedback from cyclists (somewhat related — Keri’s post on Smart Moves and Leading the Dance). I always try to point at them, wave, and maybe mouth a “thank you” when it (appropriately) happens to me.

    You might say that this wouldn’t happen if you were an automobile instead of a bicycle; I’d say if it did more, maybe we’d have a little more road courtesy for all types of road vehicles and people ….

  3. Keri
    Keri says:

    Andrew’s comment just reminded me…
    Sometimes I’ll wave a motorist through even if he technically has the right-of-way… if we’re going to end up traveling in the same direction, doing that means he won’t have to pass me right after the intersection.

    Who knows, civility could be contagious. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an outbreak.

  4. Eric
    Eric says:

    Jeepers. It just happened again this afternoon. Very annoying. As I approached an All-Way (that’s the new name) stop, there was a truck stopped and waiting for me. He was the only car there.

    Because he is stopped, I HAVE to stop and I HAVE to put my foot down. Then he waves, even though he was there first. I wave and he goes.

    So he was delayed. I was delayed. And both of us were annoyed all because he assumed I would run that stop sign. I’ll tell you one thing, you don’t run stop signs in Germany especially on their seperated side paths. Friend of mine did it and the Politzei were all over him in no time flat. I couldn’t believe he had done it, so I had no sympathy for him. I asked him, “Why in the world would you run a stop sign?” He had no answer.

  5. Keri
    Keri says:

    I’ve had some success with using the stopping hand signal and/or waving to the motorist as I approach if it looks like he’s hesitating on my behalf.

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