The Good of Bicycling Far Outweighs the Bad

Yesterday there was a blip on the radar screen of my good commutes. On my way to work, I had to call a company and report that one of their transfer trailer drivers passed me within 4-6 inches. I’m not sure why he was in such a rush, because very soon afterward, he pulled over and parked in the bike lane to make a delivery. Lucky for me, this made it very easy for me to read both the company’s phone number and the license plate number, as well as take pictures. Although my hands were shaking, I managed to stay calm and the woman on the phone was nice and helpful. All I want is for the report to be maintained in the employee’s personnel file, in case others complain of his driving. Any employer should take such reports seriously or risk legal liability if their driver ends up hurting someone, especially since there is a law here requiring drivers to pass bicyclists with three feet of distance.

But that was only a blip. I’m so happy when riding my bike around and I adjust – as I must – to the reality of the situation. These photos are from my commute home on Thursday (taken with my new vintage SLR camera).

Look how beautiful riding a bike can be. By the evening commute, all was right with the world again.

My spirits were further lifted by reading Velouria’s post, Everybody Loves a Lovely Bicycle. The pictures are beautiful and she reminds us that “beautiful bicycles can lift our spirits” and make passersby smile. I remember that for every one jerky driver, there are hundreds of considerate ones, including the occasional woman who rolls down her window at a stop light to compliment my basket or ask about my bike, plus all the pedestrians who spontaneously smile when they see my Oma cruise by.

So bike love all around :)

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28 thoughts on “The Good of Bicycling Far Outweighs the Bad

  1. Simply Bike says:

    I think it’s great that you took action and called but I also love that you were able to enjoy your later ride and not let a jerky driver ruin your day. I had a driver just the other day call ‘instructions’ to me our a rolled down car window although they were nothing short of misconceived. Oh well. All part of the package, right?

    Hope you have a wonderful weekend! S.

  2. Dave Reid says:

    It is great you didn’t let this ruin your day. Keep riding!

  3. David says:

    ‘transfer trailer truck’ – that’s the mark of a Southerner!

    • dukiebiddle says:

      After Googling “transfer trailer truck” to figure out what it meant I’m still unsure. Is it the same thing as a tractor trailer?

  4. lowrah says:

    I’m sorry you had to deal with an oblivious jerk. I like that you are not afraid to speak up/ make a report, but you took the high road while doing it. A positive attitude is so wonderful to see.

    From the title of this post, I thought you might be referring to this semi-recent news: (It is a PR about a study about how the health benefits of cycling in an urban environment outweigh risks posed by air pollution and accidents!!)

  5. Jeanette says:

    On Sunday, riding in Brooklyn, a driver pulled up next to me (I was stopped in the left lane at a red light, left side, preparing to make a left turn) and rolled down his window. “Lady,” he said, you are going to get killed, you know.”

    I was pretty flummoxed. Finally, I decided NOT to ignore him, and looked him full in the eyes, and said, “I do hope that you are as careful a driver as you are asking me to be.”

    Not sure it was the right response, but the rest of the ride was great, and the lovely folks at Bespoke Bicycles ( adjusted my seat for free!

    • neighbourtease says:

      What you said was awesome–sounds like the perfect response to me. I love the guys at Bespoke! They helped me so much and so cheaply with my old Raleigh Sports. And they are in my favorite neighborhood in all of NYC.

  6. David says:

    That said, it’s good that you weren’t hit and didn’t have the bejesus completely scared out of you. Let us know if you hear back from the trucking company.

  7. Jeanette says:

    I meant to add — kudo’s to you for having the presence of mind to report him. More power to you and I am so glad you are all right.

  8. I’m glad you’re okay! It was good of you to report him. Who knows how many other bikers or drivers he’s nearly hit?!? I once had an altercation with a driver who actually hit me (no injury to me or my bike) a few years ago on campus. She insisted I should be riding on the sidewalk! I was livid and demanded an apology. That said, I love riding my bike, and I can’t wait to get my brake fixed and start riding to work at my new academic institution.

  9. Nice post. I’ve had some rides where there were many a blip, but always, in the end, the bike ride is worth it and makes me feel happy and relaxed.

    Thanks for sharing. Those photos are gorgeous.

  10. Mike says:

    The same thing happened to me a couple years ago, back when I was commuting a longer distance to the city where I work. A large, virtually unmarked, delivery truck purposefully edged within a foot of me nearly running me off the road. Unfortunately this was on a semi-industrial road and the truck didn’t stop. However, I said virtually unmarked because the company that owned the truck had its name in small letters on the back. Turns out, I had approved their business license (I work for the city) two weeks before that. I also spoke with a supervisor who pledged to do something about it; although it was unsatisfying that I never heard back from them.

  11. neighbourtease says:

    I’m so glad you’re ok and that the person on the phone was helpful.

    When I lived (briefly) in Chicago I was always surprised at how fast the traffic could move there. The gridlock here in NYC often prevents the kinds of speeds I regularly saw in Chicago. Dunno if that is actually true but it certainly seemed that way. I also think people there drive in a more suburban way — and I don’t mean that as a diss to suburbs– I mean they drive like people who have wide open space. Yet it is a city.

    • Stephen says:

      I’ll diss the ‘burbs. I live close to (and cycle along a short portion of) a local artery road that funnels all the precious ones into town, and they are the sorriest of the lot in a car. At least most poor or working people (what is the difference anymore?) will give you a few feet, perhaps because they know that a grown man on a bicycle who doesn’t look like a circus clown may be one of their kind.

      No, I didn’t ride today, which may be why I’m a bit tight-knickered…

  12. Janice in GA says:

    I am so glad you’re ok!

  13. Michelle says:

    Hi Dottie and Trish,

    Firstly want to say your blog is amazing, it makes my day to read about your adventures (this one not being the best situation, glad you are ok though!).

    Secondly, i’m picking up my Azor (Oklahoma(, in London, which is almost like yours next week and am really excited. Your site was where I found the information needed to make the decision between which bike to purchase.

    So big thanks Dotti and Trish . . . keep the blogging hits coming!!

  14. sara says:

    I sent a similar complaint to the company of a water delivery truck at the start of the summer (with the text CT’s 3ft passing law included). I had the license plate number of the truck and the time/date/street where the incident occurred. My four-year-old was on the back & I was shaking but stayed calm I rode later that day and felt a little squirmy but didn’t want it to stop me. Unfortunately, I should have made the phone call like you because my email submission to the company’s customer service still has YET to be acknowledged.

  15. LC says:

    Hear, hear!! :)

    (I have same problem here with bus drivers, not all though!, and when I report the really bad ones I always feel a get a good/serious reply from the companies in question, so it’s def worth picking up the phone or writing that email)

  16. Carolyn I. says:

    I’m glad you are ok!

  17. Diana says:

    I hate how so many drivers don’t respect the rights of cyclists. A fellow cyclist in my town was recently almost clipped by a city bus. He brought it up at a town hall meeting, and now the police department is working on an awareness campaign to let drivers know that they must give three feet passing space.

  18. cycler says:

    Glad you’re OK. I’ve got to say that my Iphone is my secret weapon in this kind of situation. Take a photo (with license plate) google the company, or the Taxi licensing board, and call them, or the police non emergency line.

    Even belligerant drivers tend to back down when you start taking pictures of their license plates and vehicle..

    I am not as good at following up- I should start to do that a bit more, to keep things from slipping through the cracks.
    A VERY satisfying story of accountability- we need more bikers working for the transit authority.

  19. Hey, thank you for the shout-out!

    You know, somewhere down the line – and I am not sure at what point it happened – I stopped being shaken by close calls and I stopped taking bad driver behaviour personally. When something bad happens, I process it and take mental notes about how to avoid it in future, but I no longer get shaken or upset… Now if only I could do the same in the rest of my life!

  20. Curly Suze says:

    Cycling in the city must be a whole nother experience! Dottie, glad you survived this and did the right thing. While most drivers will actively try to avoid running you over, there’s almost nothing to be done about the occasional jerk who just isn’t paying attention (had one of those yesterday, uggh). Maybe this is why some cyclists take video of their daily rides?

    It’s a shame that drivers education here doesn’t include the same amount of material that Dutch drivers receive on how to handle their vehicles safely among cyclists and pedestrians. No doubt there’s a Tea Partier somewhere out there who’d call it commie subversion.

  21. Karen says:

    Good for you for reporting the driver to the company. Maybe they don’t care or maybe the owner or management takes the threat of law suits and negative PR (to say nothing of seriously injuring or killing someone!)seriously. My experience is that people love to crumble with friends or family but hate to make formal complaints because they don’t really want to get anyone in trouble or be labeled a “complainer”. And very often, they simply don’t want to be blown off.

  22. maureen says:

    Yikes! Glad you were not hurt!

  23. says:

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