The sunny and warm weather is bringing people out in droves. As a result, I find myself having more interactions with my friendly (and maybe not so friendly) Chicago neighbors. I’ll start with the friendly-neutral interaction of the day.
On my way home I was riding near the middle of the lane on a busy road because a parallel parked car ahead had its door wide open. A driver on the other side passed me extremely closely. Lucky me, he soon had to stop at a red light and his window was open. Yay for warm weather and open windows! I got an incredible urge to talk to him, which I could not resist.
I pulled up next to his window and said in my absolute sweetest and friendliest voice, “Hello, excuse me.” When he looked up at me, I continued, (smile) “Sorry, I know it was tight back there, but the law in Illinois is to pass cyclists with 3 feet of space, so maybe you could try to remember that in the future.” He was not mean or rude, more like a deer in headlights praying for the light to turn green. Without meeting my eyes, he mumbled, “What was I supposed to do?” Seriously, drivers seriously think like this. This is the carhead problem that Tucson Bike Lawyer often talks about. I could rave about how people should not be allowed to drive cars if they can’t rub two brain cells together, but I’m trying to push my mind away from that. Instead, I answered very sweetly, “You could try slowing down and waiting until it’s safe and legal to pass. Thank you!!!” (smile) Then we sat there awkwardly until the light turned green.
I know I probably shouldn’t approach strangers who are wrapped in tons of metal, but I have this urge to make drivers see that I am a human being. Certainly, I did no harm in this case and luckily the guy was not crazy. But my problem is that I assume everyone is as compassionate as I am (not to toot my own horn, but I am and have my mother to thank for that). Maybe most people don’t really give a shit one way or another. In the future I’ll probably resist the urge and save my energy.
Turning now to the friendly interactions. These were all with cyclists on the Lakefront Trail. Yesterday morning heading south, a woman passed in the other direction on a bike and then I heard, “DOTTIE!” I couldn’t get a good look at her, but I’m pretty sure it’s not one of my friends. Are you out there, nice lady? Step forth! You made my day. This morning I was standing on the side of the trail, waiting to merge, when a guy going by on a bike called out, “So you’re the owner of that Betty Foy! Nice bike!” And then he was gone, but I managed to talk to him later at the bike garage. Betty is totally famous. Ten minutes later, a guy passed me and said, “I like your Betty.” Aw, Betty blushed. All of this was super fun and it’s nice to feel plugged into the neighborhood that is Chicago.
How about everyone else? Anyone having more interaction while riding along? Thoughts on trying to reason with drivers?