Today's medium tempo ride with my friend TJ managed to confirm an uncomfortable truth. Cyclists are just as capable of the selfish, distracted and stupid behavior we attribute to drivers.
Just after eight we took aim at a familiar circuit of roads on the West side of Foothill and sawed our way towards Woodside and the crossroads at Canada Rd. and 84. I was suited up in my Rapha formal wear: Black Long Sleeve Jersey; ¾ Bib Shorts; and Winter Gilet. We caught up on work, his plan to get an apartment in the city (SF), and who he'd been seeing. We talked about the Armstrong comeback and laughed about Lance's "Who the hell is Linus Gerdemann" quote. I wouldn't want to be in a breakaway with either of them.
Then we stopped at the crossroads for a snack and watched the problem unfold. It's a pretty busy intersection and cyclists approach it from all directions. There's no traffic light, though weekend traffic probably warrants one, so you get a kind of round robin effect based on arrival time. At least that's how it's supposed to work. If I was keeping score I'd say the drivers did significantly better than the cyclists in the ten minutes we sat there.
There were cyclists that didn't stop and didn't wait their turn. There were cyclists that turned without any indication to the driver opposite them they were not heading straight through the intersection. There were diagonal left turns behind cars. There were groups of cyclists that abused their numbers to soft pedal right through the intersection as if they were warming up for the closed roads of the Tour. No eye contact with anyone or anything. And then we had one cycling ambassador who deliberately blocked the road for twenty yards knowing there was a car behind him. The driver was patient and waited for the guy to take a reasonable line.
And in the interests of equity, no sooner had we clipped in and merged than the driver two cars back honked at the driver in front for giving us the right of way. You just can't win.
We may never be able to eliminate the road rage and unprovoked assaults like last week's bottle incident but we sure stand a better chance of getting fair treatment if we take a little more responsibility for our riding.
Too bad Rapha doesn't make a jersey with a white collar – Here endeth the lesson.