Sunday, August 15, 2010

Fw: Signals

   Most cyclists in NYC don't use hand signals.  This is understandable.  Things move at such a pace that often there is no time for it.  Also, it is a physical act not the flipping of a switch.  Nevertheless, I've taken to doing at least a token hand signal whenever I can, which isn't always.  It makes the most sense though to at least try.  My thinking on this matter has been affected by two things: blocked bike lanes and female cyclists. 

   I've written on the matter of bike lanes and their limitations.  The fact is leaving a bike lane strikes me as a risky legal proposition--even when blocked.  Thus, it seems wise to do so as politely as possible, not to mention the fact that relying on a driver who may or may not be paying me any mind to guess where I am going to go isn't a good daily policy.

   The other matter is that I am ever more impressed by lady cyclists.  They exercise ever so much more common sense than male cyclists typically do.  I find that generally speaking, they are well adapted to urban cycling--they are civilized.  Their bicycles often reflect that fact.  Frequently enough for me to notice, they ride around on retro looking bicycles with nice fenders and comfortable handlebars, chainguards, etc... and yes, they signal.  They don't all do it.  I don't know if they do it all the time, but I hardly ever see guys do it.  Upon observing it, I couldn't help noticing that it wasn't that hard and it seems like only a special kind of jerk could refuse them access to the lane.  Of course that could just be me and my chivalric tendencies, but I don't think that's the case.

   I've taken to employing signals more often, but I hasten to add that I am not really asking permission, but serving notice of a lane change.  This works only because I am taking what can be taken and signaling the motorist not to be a jerk and allow what he or she should.  I am considerate (with regard to speed and distance) when taking a lane and am insisting on the same from the motorist.  The ladies appear to be doing the same.  This is not always obvious in the rat race of traffic, so a reminder is useful.  It happens that most drivers are not jerks and those that are, are usually stingy about the space they afford you and are not homicidal.  The first rule remains: "stay out of the way!" roughly translated--don't impede the flow of traffic. 


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