Thursday, July 9, 2009

For the love of dog, learn to drive!


I've been here for over 3 years now and after almost being killed on my bike by a stupid fat brain dead moron driving a car for the umpteenth time today there is something I want to get off my chest. You may very well be offended, it depends on how much you resemble these guys and whether or not you are a humourless git. If you actually do any of the things listed below on a regular basis - this post is aimed at you. If you don't, then read through safe in the knowledge that my considerable ire over this subject is not directed at you. And for the record, yes I know that most of this also happens in other countries but one would expect that in a country renowned for inventing the mass produced motor vehicle and for its reliance on it in all its guises people might actually be able to handle them with a degree of competence beyond "Is this here one of them there new fangled iron horses hyuk yuk?"

Americans (at least the 95% of you who this will apply to) - why the fuck can't you drive properly? Don't tell me it is just coincidence that there has only ever been one American born Formula 1 world champion (and that back in 1961) and that most NASCAR races involve corners all going in one direction! I mean, I took driving lessons for 6 months in the UK and then took a very strict driving test that involved performing a set number of a wide range of driving maneuvers within certain tolerances to get my license. Here, I drove round the block and took an easy written test. It doesn't matter what state that license plate says you are from, I can almost guarantee with a degree of certainty that rivals any psychic that at some point in the few minutes I share a portion of the road with you, you will try to kill me.

When I lived too far away from work to ride my bike I used to simply marvel at the sheer breathtaking insanity of getting behind a wheel and using an automobile to get anywhere in Colorado - never mind interstate. Whenever I arrived at my destination I used to feel the strange urge to kiss the ground and hug the first person I saw whilst proclaiming "We made it, we really made it." I knew that even if 'Texting Teenage Girl in Nissan Xterra' did decide to play Guess which lane I want and when I had roll cages, anti lock brakes, air bags and seat belts to pull me through. But now, riding my bike, I feel like I might as well be an anti-gun black Mexican illegal immigrant gay socialist liberal atheist at a Rush Limbaugh Appreciation Society weekend retreat. To be honest, the odds of survival are greater with Rush and friends.

It's bad enough that people actually do stare at me for being on a bike (what are they thinking? "That must be the new Chrysler everyone's talking about, strange that it only has two wheels, and where does the internal combustion system go.") At least the people who stare are actually aware of the fact that they are sharing the road with someone else. Most people here seem painfully unaware of the fact that they are not the only people on the road. Once I hit the button for a pedestrian crossing which is clearly marked and very visible and counted 21 cars pass through before anyone actually obeyed the law and stopped to let me cross.

And don't think traffic lights help any either. You see those white lines painted on the road? They aren't for you to put your car on when the light is red - they're for you to STOP BEHIND. As in NOT ON TOP OF, YOU FUCKING WANKER. It is called a pedestrian crossing because it is for pedestrians to cross the road without having to clamber over your piece of shit lump of Detroit thrown together metal, rubber and plastic. It's not like you didn't notice me sitting almost 6 feet tall and 200lbs heavy on my bike in my bright cycling clothes 12 inches from the side of the bloody road. Oh wait. My fault entirely. You didn't see me because you were too busy shaving, applying makeup, reading, texting, talking on a cell phone, eating, unwrapping what you are about to eat, drinking, putting the cream in your drink, putting the straw in your drink, turning round to yell at the kids, turning round to pick up something the kids dropped, turning round to get something out of the back of the car, turning round to unwrap something for the kids, picking up something you dropped, turning round to speak to someone in the back of the car, marking exam papers, studying notes for work and writing in the margin, studying something for school and writing on it, switching CDs over, reading a text message, checking your makeup in the mirror, doing your hair, lighting a cigarette, getting changed whilst driving, looking the wrong way as you turn the corner, trying to wipe something off the front of your shirt, inspecting your fingernails or you simply didn't see me because you are a total fucking moron or so blind you shouldn't be behind the wheel anyway.

When the crossing indicates pedestrians can cross and they are doing so, guess what? If you're in a car it means YOU SHOULD WAIT. It means DON'T STOP ON OR OVER THE CROSSING. It means STOP BEHIND THE WHITE LINE. The amber lights in traffic lights don't mean 'Speed up or you will have to wait for a couple of minutes." They mean, "Slow down, the light is about to change to red and you are going to have to stop." If you decide to speed up and then have to jump on your brakes so you don't run a red and this means you finish on the crossing, guess what? You are a total arse. You are a BAD DRIVER. There would be a special place in Hell for you, if Hell existed. It would probably involve constant renditions of Abba songs by fat northern English women in mini-skirts who think they are actually Aretha Franklin in disguise (Mark knows what I'm talking about, ask him).

And another thing, if you go through the lights at a turn when they are red and I honk my horn at you because the light is now green for me, waving at me because you got caught being a douche bag doesn't excuse you from being a douche bag. If you knew it was wrong then WHY DID YOU DO IT? And going to the front of the lane to my left because you don't want to wait behind me, but then wanting to turn right into my lane and take the next right hand turn immediately after we turn also makes you a MASSIVE TOSSER.

Oh, and it is called an indicator. Not a blinker. Not a flasher. It is used to indicate your intention to change lanes or turn and in which direction you intend to change lanes or turn. If you indicate however, you still have to wait until it is sane to do so. A gap that is six inches longer than your car is not 'a suitable lane change opportunity' - it's called a SANE SAFETY MARGIN. It's what people who can almost competently drive (we'll get to this) leave between their vehicle and the one in front as a bare minimum. The fact that you don't know what it is should be telling you something.

Furthermore, because you use the indicator to indicate your intention to change lanes or turn, leaving it on after you have changed lanes or turned means you aren't paying the necessary amount of attention to your driving. It means you should stop driving immediately so that the rest of us have the chance to enjoy happy and fruitful lives without complete tits like you cutting them short through your incompetence and your mystifying inability to see the bright flashing light on your dashboard 20 inches from your face telling you that your indicator is still on. Do you not hear the annoying clicking noise or do you just like pissing off those of us who don't like guessing where you are going today?

Whilst we are on the subject of indicators and turning. No, having your indicator on doesn't mean you can overtake me as I ride my bike and then turn in front of me when I am 6 feet from the turn. You are supposed to fucking wait. What, 5 seconds is going to make all the difference to your day? I know that you think you are the centre of the Universe and that the rest of us were put here simply to amuse you with the screeching of brakes and imaginative but barely heard insults but the rest of us weren't sent the memo. We make the optimistic mistake of expecting the same level of vigilance, competence and awareness that we maintain. That's why your stupidity still takes us by surprise everyday in those frequent "Are you kidding me... did you see that... what a..." moments.

I mean really, did you think that all those horns blaring behind you were always directed at someone else?

And have you heard of safe stopping distances? Have you heard of the two second rule? Unless you have the superhuman reflexes of Super McSuperHuman then a safe distance behind me is not so close to my arse we should really be married. Good drivers leave room between them and the car in front, not because they want you to cut them up and slow down, but because they like living. And who would have thought? Bad weather really does mean having to alter our driving behaviour. Simply earth shattering. No, I really don't think you are cool because you are doing 65 miles an hour in a blizzard in your new Hummer. I hate to break it to you genius, but it doesn't matter how many wheels are driving your car, 'no friction' means 'no friction'. If you don't know how to drive safely in bad weather, STAY AT HOME.

If you slow down to look at accidents don't worry, you're not stupid. You're lowlife scum.

And I don't care if a dog ran into the road, it is just a dog. Would you rather run over a dog or be behind the wheel for this?

I don't care if you got caught speeding and think the police should be doing something more important - the speed limit is the law, and the job of the police is to enforce the law. I don't care if Jeremy Clarkson is funny, he is wrong. Speeding does kill. I was caught speeding and I deserved the fine and the penalty points.

Now, we all make mistakes, no-one is perfect. But if you think any of the above is acceptable, if you do any of the above on a regular basis then you are a BAD DRIVER. Do the rest of us a favour and stay at home or die in an accident that involves no-one else, before you kill one of us.

Today's rant was brought to you by the letter A and the human organ, the spleen. And that fucking idiot driving a blue Ford Freestyle that nearly ran me over because he was putting cream in his coffee and decided to drive over the crossing even though the light was red and the pedestrian light was on for me to cross. Fucking Knob head.


  1. I heartily agree. I hated the UK driving test when I was 17 and thought it some kind of un-godly punishment to prevent me from getting behind the wheel of 2 tons of purple volkswagen... but now I see, when compared to the laughable US driving 'exam' it has probably saved many lives.

    Pedal safely my friend.

  2. The only one of those I do semi-regularly is the "speed up at the yellow" thing; but that's only when I'm pretty sure my front end will be sticking out into the intersection if I try to stop.

  3. Even our driving test pales into insignificance compared to the Finnish one :)

  4. KofF:

    You're excused on the grounds that I dislike drivers who do stop on the crossing or over it intensely!

  5. same thing happened to me but it was an idiot on a bicycle who ran the light so fast I couldn't tell if he was drinking a coffee

    if I had earbuds in I wouldn't have heard him coming and would have stepped into the street to likely be killed at 25 to 35 KM/hr

    most people on bikes are pedestrians/vehicles at their whim and have no more respect for the laws than the speeders you lament

  6. Well, the first person to get their knickers in a twist showed up a lot quicker than I thought they would.


    You poor dear, when did you first realise you had no sense of humour?

    You do seem to be labouring under a couple of false impressions as well. Firstly, you seem to think that criticising cyclists is going to illicit the same response from me that my criticising American drivers did from you (even though your in Canada, strangely). Sorry.

    I could write an equally angry post about cyclists in the US, because plenty of them are idiots and dangerous - but I don't have nearly as big a problem with cyclists on a daily basis as I do with motorists. After all, cyclists generally aren't to blame for the approximately 42,000 automobile accident deaths a year in the USA.

    On top of this, in my job I meet and work with a lot of cyclists - so I know that actually most cyclists don't switch between being a pedestrian or a vehicle on a whim as you claim and you're just reacting to feeling insulted (which of the things I listed make you a bad driver?) and venting at cyclists because you had a close call with a moron on a bike once. On the other hand, anyone who has been anywhere near a road in the US knows that I gave a pretty accurate description of daily driving conditions and habits.

    Secondly, you also seem to think that I am largely concerned with speeding - despite the fact that I mentioned speeding in just one small paragraph near the end of the post. Speed a lot do we? Feel a little insulted? Most of the things I listed actually break one law or another, most people just choose to ignore that.

    It is funny the reaction you can provoke from people by criticising their driving.

    Oh, and if you can't tell whether or not someone passing you at 25 to 35 km/h (15 to 22 mph) on a bike is drinking coffee or not, you probably shouldn't be behind the wheel of a car and I recommend you get your eyes tested.

    Or work on your attempts at sarcasm.

    Thank you, come again.

  7. whatever you want pal

    merely pointing out that 95% of cyclists are idiots on the road too

    Or when blogging

  8. Ah the old "Whatever" gambit, last refuge of those with nothing of intelligence or consequence left to say. Or favourite of the inhabitant of the primary school playground. Which are you?

    As I already pointed out, you are wrong. 95% of cyclists are not idiots on the road, and I'll wager I know a lot more cyclists than you. I mean, have you been to the Netherlands? See I was talking specifically about US motorists, you appear to be talking about all cyclists. Mine was a bad enough generalisation but I have the evidence - yours is ridiculously overblown and backed up with your one incident and subsequent sense of humour deficit.

    I've ridden to work on my bike on two more occasions since I wrote the original post. The first night on the way home I was almost hit once again by someone running over the same crossing when the light was red. In both directions today someone stopped over the crossing. Not to mention the two occasions where as I rode into the left hand turn lane people in cars passed me in the lane to the right and then crossed the unbroken white line (you know, the one that means "Do not cross") to turn in front of me at the last minute.

    Oh yes, one more thing. If you want to call other people idiots you might want to try learning how to use sentences, capital letters and punctuation first. Otherwise you might end up looking like an uneducated and illiterate tool.

    Thanks for playing.

  9. Be careful out there it's bad enough cycling in the UK, don't think I'd bother on Roads in the US, bigger suv's driven by people with guns.

  10. Scarier thought - my local police department had apprently trailled using bicycles instead of their big old Crown Vics to get around the streets of the local town (actually a really good idea).

    While this saved the police department on fuel, provided access for police officers to pedestrianized areas (there are actually SOME areas in this country to which motorized vehicles do not have access) and made the local police department a heck of a lot more accessible to the local community - the trial was dumped and deemed a failure.


    Because the officers had to get off their bikes to shoot their guns. Apparently in a car, they can shoot from the window, while driving. Riding a bike entailed removing feet from pedals, standing on the floor and firing.

    I feel SO much safer.

  11. Mark - I've also found that being a trained police driver is no guarantee of competence behind a wheel here as well - I've been cut up or nearly run down by marked and unmarked police cars whilst riding, and seen some pretty bad driving by state troopers on the highway as well.

    Breathtaking, when you think about it.

  12. Sorry for linking to an external site, but this pic kind of says it all really when it comes to police activity:

  13. Thank you for voicing so many of my own complaints. One of the worst parts is my mom and I often have to tell my dad to signal when he's trying to merge. He'll do it when there's finally a clear opening, but signaling beforehand might just let some polite person give him an opening.

    The local drivers are bad enough that I often don't feel safe in my airbagful car. I can't imagine the terror of being on a bicycle around them. At least I don't catch the police being idiots.

    One of my big peeves: People who creep forward at red lights. Some leave me to wonder why they don't just run it.