Monday, June 18, 2007

Age Does Not Always = Wisdom

This is a slight rant for a Monday morning (seriously, are weekends getting shorter, or is it just me?).

As I was on my way down to my Dad's yesterday with Father's Day dinner (3-cheese baked ziti, salad and fresh Italian bread....delish, if I do say so myself!), I made an observation about two sets of bike riders. It was a gorgeous day and perfect for both motorcycle riding and bicycling. Although, most motorcycle riders, I'm sure were a little more north in Laconia. But, I digress....

My dad lives in a rural area with narrow, curvey two lane roads. There isn't much room on either side since the bushes are in full bloom on both sides. Not a great place to ride bikes, but lots of people do, and should...when they do it properly. Can you feel the rant coming?

I'm about a mile and a half from my dad's ready to go around a corner and I see, in the other lane, a couple riding their bikes...they have just come around a corner, without helmets, and riding side by side. They aren't young, either, probably in their 40s, I'd say. They aren't haulin' down the road on a training ride, either, just a leisurely, afternoon ride. As I went past them, I saw a car come around the corner and have to brake to miss them. Did the guy on the outside duck in then? No! He stayed riding in the middle of the road as they approached the next curve so the car couldn't safely pass.

I'm all for cyclists on the road. I am one sometimes. And, I'm ok with people riding side by side, when it is appropriate for all involved. Riding, side-by-side, without helmets, on a curvey, narrow country road is just stupid. Yup, I said it, stupid. I could only shake my head and hope they didn't come to any harm.

About a quarter mile down the road, on another bend, I came across two young boys on their bikes (maybe 10 years old). They each wore helmets and were riding single file around the corner. They had fishing poles and were headed off to have a great, safe day of fishing. Good for them! They, obviously, have parents who ride bikes and had some sense about them to teach the boys good riding habits early on. Hopefully, this will translate for the rest of their lives and they'll love riding and have wonderful riding experiences. All parents should take the time to teach their kids good riding habits.

My take from all this was that age does not always equal wisdom. These kids could certainly have taught the grown ups something about safety yesterday.


Roberta said...

To some of us out here, 40 is young! But I speak from years of experience when I say: Stupid is ageless.

Anonymous said...

Difficult to comment without seeing the situation, but I would like to question whether it really was stupid.

What they were doing was completely legal and it would have been the cars fault if it had not been able to stop in time. That is not to say that they should neglect their safety even if it is legal.

But there is a balance between the risk of someone going to fast and not being able to stop, and the risk of cars not overtaking properly and squeezing past regardless.

Helmets - Americans do seem overly keen on them.

Donna T. said...

Hi there anon - yes, I agree, cars need to watch what they are doing on the road and share them, politely, with cyclists! Absolutely! This particular situation just wasn't a safe one even if the car was going the speed limit - they were blind to what was around the corner. The cyclists were careless, IMO.

On the flip side, I've been on straight country roads with cyclists that are riding side by side - had the room and the visibility to pass and it doesn't even phase me. Just give them a wide berth and around I go without a second thought. Just like you said.

The helmet issue is one that I struggle with. I don't like wearing one, but I do because, well, it is safer. And, although I know I'll stay on the side of the road and ride with good sense, not all cars do. Hence, I mentioned 'politely' above. Some drivers just don't think they should share the road with a cyclist, period. They are all aggressive...we've all seen it...and can create dangerous situations. Or, the sun gets in their eyes, or they are trying to text at the same time,or change the radio station - and weave over to where the unsuspecting cyclist is and 'wham' off the bike the cyclist goes. That's why I wear a helmet, even though I don't really like them. Just my two cents.

Thanks for the comments and come back any time!

Anonymous said...

In Massachusetts you cannot ride side-by-side unless passing another cyclist.