Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bike Girl Is Invisible

There are many times when our fair protagonist, Bike Girl, must go under cover. In these instances, she attempts to travel unseen and undifferentiated from the masses. Bike Girl is actually the first female to be awarded the title Master Of Disguise by the ISA (International Spy Association.)

When exercising her prowess at the art of disappearance, it is a given that people do not notice her. However, in her daily life, Bike Girl is somewhat more noticeable. As readers well-know, she enjoys riding all over town in a dress. Any red-blooded male driver would notice a femme-fatale riding about town on a bicycle in a dress. But on one fateful day in June, one particular male driver proved otherwise.

To add to her visibility on this fateful day, Bike Girl was carrying a full pannier on each side of her rear rack. One pannier contained her extremely large, bright green purse. The other pannier contained a Spider Plant so large, it could not be contained by the pannier. This plant, larger than the most comical Halloween afro wig, spilled out of the top of the pannier and its tendrils blew behind Bike Girl in the wind. It was a sight to see, if you saw it.

As she towed her cargo down a road with a Class I bike lane, a vehicle overtook her on the left. As it did so it began to merge into the bike lane. Un-phased, Bike Girl expertly applied the brakes so as to avoid disaster. As the driver pulled into a parallel parking spot, Bike Girl pulled over, approximately 1 car length ahead of him.

(Bike Girl has learned that drivers are somewhat protective of their vehicles, so she made sure to pull over far enough away so as to get the driver's attention without appearing threatening. )

The driver, now suddenly seeing Bike Girl, jumped out of his car with a look of horror on his face. "What happened!?" he exclaimed. Bike Girl calmly told him, in a very sweet voice, that he had come within an inch of hitting her as he merged.

She explained, "We cyclists are very vulnerable on the road, so please watch out for us in the future and make sure to give us a little space."

The driver, like a schoolchild being gently scolded, replied that he was very, very sorry, and that in the future, he would watch more closely for cyclists. Bike Girl was satisfied with this response. She thanked him and rode on.

Later that evening, as our fair protagonist recounted the odd experience to her Significant Other, she wondered aloud what it would take to be more visible on the road. If a woman riding a bicycle in a bike lane wearing a bright pink dress and carting a giant plant cannot be seen, who can? Bike Girl often rides in spandex, but refuses to don one of the day-glo colored jackets or vests worn by some roadies. After the dress/plant getup, she's not sure even the day-glo would have helped.

What then is the solution? Bike Girl thinks vehicular cycling should be taught in PE class in middle schools. That way, a new generation of drivers will be aware of the proper ways to pass cyclists. Bike Girl would also like a series of posters on how to safely pass cyclists at the DMV. But if a driver cannot see a cyclist, even when the cyclist is making every effort to be visible, how can he execute a safe pass?

3 comments:

Skip said...

I think teaching all children vehicular cycling in middle school is a great idea. That's when I was lucky enough to be at a school where cycle racing was a sport. The skills I learned at that age have served me well ever since, and made me tolerant (and observant) of multi-mode users on our roads. I wish everyone had the same opportunity to learn tolerance that I did.

Pants Yabbies said...

A year (at least) of vehicular cycling should be a requirement before anyone can even get a learner permit to drive.

Also (from BSNYC) cars should be no larger than 1.5L, be manual transmission, and air-cooled. They're way too over-powered.

Anonymous said...

Even the Dutch have Biker's Ed. See more here: http://wwbpa.org/2010/05/bicycle-education-dutch-style/