Saturday, February 4, 2012

Driving Like I Ride a Bike

I cycle like a turtle (okay maybe not to a crawl, but you get the point) slow and steady. I coast hills, which is a holdover from my long distance touring days where it's important to conserve energy. I glide to a halt at traffic lights and stop signs. I have never enjoyed the sprint, but rather delight in my surroundings. I-get-there-when-I-get-there attitude towards cycling—the pleasure is in the journey.

When I drive to work I can't shake the bike riding mentality. On descents I take my foot off the gas, even if it means I'm speeding at some point, though not dangerously fast as the hills on my commute dip and climb. I don't go so far as to yell "yeehaw!" like I do on my bike, but I've thought about it (no one would know since I drive by myself). When I come to a traffic light that's red or yellow I tend to ease up. Who cares how fast I get there? Obviously some folks do since they pass me in a 25 m.p.h. zone. But I don't let it bother me. If I live and drive in the slow lane it's because I'd rather be on a bike. I consider that a virtue.

But there's a downside to all this bike manners business. Behind the wheel the other day I did some errands in another part of town, a neighborhood I frequent by bike. At a stop light I caught myself taking my foot off the brake as soon as I heard the chirp and flashing of the crosswalk light, signs I'm very attuned to while I pedal. Fortunately there was a car ahead to reign in my reaction.

Maybe this type of driving isn't as safe as I thought. But still, because I ride a bike, I'm more cautious around pedestrians and cyclists. I just need to remember what type of seat is beneath me.


  1. I've found that commuting by bike most of the time has made me a slower driver. It feels weird to go more than about 35mph! Which is very frustrating for the other drivers, since most of the speed limits here are in the 45-70mph range. This has been a good thing for me. Before I took to the bicycle I was a fast driver - not speeding, but pushing the car to the legal limits of whatever road I was on. And I tailgated, which I never even noticed that I did until I stopped driving so much. I would say that cycling has made me a much better and safer driver.

  2. Annie we so have the same attitude to cycling! I have to admit to always grinning like a beserker when coasting downhill! It's one of numerous reasons why, at the end of Winter despite grumbling into my cups, I still don't get around to buying a car again.


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