My friend Ken Sturrock turned me on to a well-written essay over at the excellent online/print magazine Momentum…in the essay, author Deb Greco describes her evolution from hotheaded badass to a more “well-tempered cyclist”.
What motorists have always suspected is true: When I get on my bike, a switch goes off and consideration for anyone else ceases to exist. Each morning, amped on fresh air and adrenaline, I fly downhill on San Francisco’s Market Street and head for the Financial District. My goal is simple: to make it to work without stopping – or at least not long enough for my feet to touch the ground.
This is how I recently found myself in the middle of an intersection before the light had turned green, when a MUNI bus came barrelling through despite a good solid red overhead. I only avoided a crash by turning in the direction the bus was travelling in; it came so close, I felt the kiss of steel along the length of my right side. The bus driver slammed on his brakes, stuck his head out his side window, looked me right in the terrified eye, and yelled, “A…”
To read the rest of the essay, please visit Momentum Planet.
This essay really resonated with me — especially because I’m steadily evolving into a more well-tempered cyclist. There were many times in the past when I was quick on the draw with a middle finger and a shouted curseword, and I made a commitment to change after spending a lot of cycling time with my good friend Alan Snel. Alan, a consummate cycling advocate, showed me that a thumbs-up, a friendly wave or any other positive acknowledgment of the motorists around us does far more to help our fellow two-wheelers than any shouting match, obscene gesture or physical confrontation ever could. Alan claims to have transformed several streets in our area into a far more bike-friendly atmosphere by simple acts like throwing the peace sign at every car that passes by, and by God — I think he’s right!
I’ve got a way to go, but Deb’s essay gives me encouragement to continue my evolution towards calmness and friendliness out on the roads.