Friday, October 24, 2008

Common Courtesies

OK, be forewarned...

What ever became of common courtesy among cyclists?

Even as the number of bike-commuters grows daily, I see less and less camaraderie in evidence -- it should be us vs. the cars/trucks/buses/potholes, but there's this negative vibe in the air of cyclist vs. cyclist.

It didn't use to be this way. (oh God, I'm gonna sound like a geezer, but:) I remember when people on bikes watched out for each other, helped each other, said "hi" to each other. If you rode by someone else on a bike, you at least muttered a greeting; if someone was on the side of the road and their bike appeared to be broken, flatted, or such, you at least asked if they needed help.

Now, I'm lucky if 1 out of 3 riders I see so much as gives a glance acknowledging my presence, and the number afflicted with, as my wife calls it, "grim rider syndrome" greatly exceeds those who are friendly. Is everyone really so bent on achieving their training/commuting goals that they can't say hi? The results aren't much different even when it's my darling wife and my adorable daughter on our tandem, and that's just sad.

Today's experience was the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back, inspiring this long-winded rant: I dropped my chain on the single-speed on the way to work, and while I didn't actually need help, I was pulled over on the side of the street with an obvious mechanical problem, and four riders went by without saying anything whatsoever. I passed one of them about five minutes later, and just couldn't think what to say to him... "Thanks, you jerk, for not seeing if I was OK? I'll be sure to do the same for you?"

That's just not me. I always ask. And say hi. And wave to people on crappy bikes. Because we're all fellow human-powered travelers, who need to stick together and watch out for each other, as the car-drivers sure as heck aren't gonna watch out for us. And it's those little common courtesies, so easily forgotten, that otherwise remind us of our shared experience as cyclists.

No comments: