Monday, May 19, 2008

Open Letter to a Careless Driver

To the guy in the gargantuan white SUV whom I encountered this morning at the intersection of Readington and Hillcrest roads,

You may not have seen me there till the last minute, while I was riding my bicycle. I'm a small guy, being only 6'3" and my bicycle is a hardly-noticeable shade of neon green. I could see how it would be so easy for a conscientious driver such as yourself to miss.
However, there was a stop sign to the right of your cyclopean gas guzzler, just before the point at which you made that left turn at full speed. You may have seen them around. They're red, have eight sides and have the letters S-T-O-P printed on them fairly largely.
We have this tradition, some might even consider it a law around these parts, that when one comes in direct contact with one of those signs, one is supposed to bring one's vehicle to a complete halt and look both ways before proceeding about one's business.
One is not supposed to roll through it, even if one is in a hurry. And one is certainly not supposed to, say, kill the poor guy riding his bicycle to work.
See, I was there, riding along, trying to do my part for fitness, the environment and my lack of surplus cash. I was following all the traffic laws, as I prepared to make the turn onto the road you were coming out of. I first looked over my shoulder to make sure the way was clear, then I looked ahead, I moved to the left side of the lane and stuck out my left arm in what we call, where I'm from, a "turn signal."
Up to that point, everything was going smoothly, as an experienced cyclist, I felt that I had judged my speed and my position on the road proper for such a turn. What I wasn't expecting was for you to come flying out through the stop sign and directly at me to make your own left turn.
You may forgive me, then for the loud, inchoate noise I made to alert you to my presence. I hope you'll also forgive me for some of the possibly inappropriate language I used in my attempt to explain how, according to our local customs, you may have not handled the maneuver properly.
See, when one is traveling along, trying to operate one's vehicle safely and properly, it can be something of a shock to have a large truck suddenly directly in one's path. Fortunately, I was alert enough, and experienced enough to brake and change direction slightly so that, with what I can only believe is the direct intervention of the Madonna di Ghisallo, I avoided a painful collision. However, if it had been a less competent cyclist (I make no claim to extraordinary ability, mind you, but I've got enough mileage to be at least moderately confident in my skills) or even a heavier, less maneuverable vehicle, such as a motorcycle, or even a car, the situation might have devolved into such a mess as to, say, damage your otherwise pristine paint job.
If I may make a suggestion, perhaps you should do some research on our quaint local customs regarding traffic signs. And, if I may be so bold, you may wish to reconsider your choice of vehicle. In addition to a lack of maneuverability and a poor field of view, such a means of conveyance, in these days of international tension and environmental crisis might be considered by some, even those you haven't nearly killed recently, as somewhat...gauche. Unpatriotic even. Far be it from me, who merely uses muscle power on occasion to lessen my personal dependence on foriegn oil, to question your lifestyle, but it is something to consider.
Thank you,
A Cyclist.

No comments: