Not Logical Thinking

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I was riding along 29th street the other day, here in Topeka. It is a 4 lane street that is fairly busy. I was going over to Bill’s house to ride. I was thinking about cars passing me and how they were giving me a fairly wide berth, which was nice.

For some reason I realized that I thought that the cars recognize that I’m a pretty serious cyclist and that they need to pay more attention and treat me differenty. I really believed that. When I realized that I thought that, I wanted to slap myself and say get real.

I don’t have any idea how I came up with the mindset that drivers of automobiles would be able to recognize a good rider from Joe Blow, but for some reason I just assumed they did and that is how I’ve always thought.

I must of been out of my mind when I subconsciously came up with this notion, but whatever the reason, it is completely wrong.

I’m pretty sure that nearly all drivers don’t see me any different that the guy that is riding down the street, wearing army boots, on a $20 MTB, that he got at a garage sale. And the reason he is riding the bike is because he lost his license from DUI’s.

I, on the other hand, can look at a rider and pretty much tell you, within few seconds, what caliber of rider he/or she is. For sure if I can watch them corner or stand up and climb. Most of us can. But, assuming that the average citizen can do that is just insane.

What is so surprising about this is just my personal observation of my thought process, or lack of. I hope this is an isolated instance and that I don’t have other delusional beliefs floating around in there.


16 thoughts on “Not Logical Thinking

  1. Carl Sundquist

    What I am always conscious of is that bike riders make aberrant moves, whether it is dodging a pothole or gap in the road, a sudden realization that we should turn RIGHT THERE, a U turn because we saw something in the road, or whatever. It doesn’t matter how experienced you are; we all do it. How many times have you ridden through the area of the start line before a race, only to have someone whip a U turn in front of you without looking behind first to see if it’s clear?

    In my opinion, that is what probably makes vehicle drivers the most frustrated: never knowing what the person on the bike is going to do. I always bear that in mind on the roads and I can’t blame the drivers for it either.

  2. Nick

    Usually they give you LESS berth than the guy in army boots on a $20 bike. They see spandex and feel it’s their duty to punish/insult you.

  3. Linda

    Some time ago, I read about a study looking at how drivers perceive cyclists based on their appearances. Those who look “serious” (e.g. wear a colorful kit) are given less respect. Those dressed in civvies, riding a cruiser or townie, get a wider berth. Also, drivers come closer to cyclists riding a straight line and go wide around someone who is weaving.

    I ride with a mirror and it makes an immense difference in how I feel on the road. I can see when a pickup is starting to swerve toward me and stomp on the gas to leave me in a cloud of black smoke (just happened last week). Knowing what’s behind me and how close gives me far more confidence riding and is wonderful on a long canyon descent. I know it looks dorkie, but then again, a spandex-clad rider looks pretty dorkie to most non-riders, so who cares?

  4. nathanjr

    I agree with Nick. I’m one of THOSE guys that rides in baggies and a camelback and I almost never get hassled by cars. I think it’s possible that a lot of the subpopulation of drivers inclined to being a dick to cyclists reconsider when they think I’m using the road industriously (commuting) as opposed to recreationally. Out playing in the road in spandex…let’s buzz him. Of course, the subpupulation that is driving distracted doesn’t discriminate.

  5. Zach

    You’d be appalled to learn about the myriad of cognitive biases we all have that conspire against us every day. They can be very useful, but in this world now they often lead us astray, the only way to combat that is to recognize and take appropriate steps to counter them. Its excellent and you’ll end up more often (but not always) at conclusions that are closer to reality, you may however not like them as much.

  6. Dave

    The typical motorist probably sees: “Lance Armstrong type (sorry not my analogy… I’ve seen it in various comments), hipster or kid, and recreational rider. They probably don’t have any real sense of skill level. I would agree that they probably give more clearance to wobbly riders. There was some research indicating that drivers gave more space to riders without helmets though this is not exactly proven.

    You can’t avoid preconceptions entirely but I find that a constant concentration on immediate empirical evidence trumps generalized concepts while cycling.

  7. john

    I remember about 45 years ago – I was riding and racing some, but not a member of the local racing group/culture. I would meet or pass the Tuesday night group ride in my car and out of the window gesture as if they should move over to their right. Thinking or not – it is for their own good/safety – this is my road …I didn’t have a clue and I was kind of a bike racer.

  8. Paul

    Drivers forget that long before they got their license they (probably) rode a bike… All that steel around them, along with the accompanying creature comforts (A/C, Radio, Heaters, Nav Systems) have dulled their senses ( and wits)…

  9. Bee-an-key

    I have thought the same thing at times because we ride with confidence, own our lane and ride smarter. You get tricked into thinking that a driver respects you because you are professional and behave like one. Unfortunately the driver thinks that they own the road and we bow to their wishes and we understand they have the upper hand (which they do), etc. Just a different kind of being delusional sometimes.

  10. Jon

    I got to the point where nearly every single ride there would be a “fly by” or as nathan said “lets buzz him”. I finally bagged it, and I was a very serious/ successful master’s racer. This is my life I’m playing with. I’ve done at least 100,000 miles in the saddle and one more, ten more or 10,000 more rides aren’t gonna change how I feel about cycling. I’ve made my peace with it.

    I bought a motorcycle last year after completing a safety course and “rode” over 10,000 miles in about 5 months. The buzz is even better than the bike because the speed is free and 1000 times more than that of a bicycle. Yes it’s dangerous, but you have the entire lane and don’t have to worry about being over taken. Instead of being looked at like a dork you’re looked at as a bad ass. Not that that should matter, but it sure is a nice switch. I have to say that it feels a hell of a lot “safer” than cycling for me.

    At some point you have to ask yourself….Is cycling good for me? Am I getting injured a lot? Am I spending absurd amounts of money chasing ridiculous goals? The only people that care about our results are a small handful of people. As master’s bike racers, we’re completely out of touch. How many SERIOUS injuries have you had in recent years Steve? Racing is clearly in your blood, but will you just go until it kills you….or worse…..paralyzes you? I dread the day when I read something like that, but there’s a reason people retire. You’re one of the most interesting dudes out there and your stories are worth checking in on every single day. I love your mindset on so many of your opinions, and the sheer variety of your posts. Your blog is alive and well in an age of dead blogs everywhere. People want to hear what you have to say, including me. You’re not gonna stop pedaling any time soon, but shit man……be careful. You’re not 50 anymore!

    Or better yet…… buy a motorcycle and twist the throttle. You still get to get out on the roads and get the wind in your face and you can do 300-400 miles in a day like nothing at all and still feel fresh as a daisy when you’re done. Plus I would imagine you’d LOVE working mechanically on the motor bikes. There are so many similarities.

    Anyway, be safe whatever you do. Peace to you, Trudi, Kris, Catherine, Keith, Bill and of course Bromont.

  11. Scott

    How many people/pros have you heard about in the last couple years gettin hit by cars. Way too many!! I blame it on cell phones. People are too distracted now in their cars. That is a main reason I switched to racing mtb’s. It is hard to get hit by a car in the woods.

  12. The Cyclist

    This is so true. The cell phone is the worst thing that ever happened to traffic safety. And it’s not so much the cell phone itself as the arrival of the smart phones. And it’s not just car drivers. All big cities are now full of zombiefied pedestrians completely unaware of anything going on around them with their eyes locked to the screens of their iPhones. We need statistics on how many cyclists get killed and injured by iPhones each and every year so we all can file a class action lawsuit against Apple.

  13. MM1

    Here in the uk the popular (media) perception is still that cyclists are 2nd class citizens who are too poor to own a car, or that they are cranks and weirdos. The reality, as Matt Seatton, who is now the New York correspondent for the Guardian, has pointed out is somewhat different, as much of the tension on our roads is between middle class recreational cyclists and working class drivers. Because traffic laws are not properly enforced here drunks don’t tend to become cyclists after DIU, they just keep driving illegally!

  14. Ken

    @Scott – Totally agreed. I ride mostly on a great bike 30-mile path, but when I get to lights to cross a busy main road, I’ll count how many people rolling by are looking down at their phones. While the old presumption is getting squeezed by some yahoo in a pickup truck, a cyclist is probably far more likely to be hit by a college girl who can’t keep her eyes off her text messages, and never even saw the cyclist. As a PS, I wait now for a few seconds even after I get the green light in case of people running the red light without realizing it – texting all the way. I don’t think I have any interest in riding on roads where I live in the East. At least Steve can get out of Topeka and be on those quiet roads.


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