Friday, September 5, 2008

Friendly, but clueless

I don't know how often y'all ride bicycles in traffic or on roads, but I've been doing it quite a bit recently to get to and from work every day. I like the exercise book-ending my day, and it's pretty countryside to ride through.

Back when I was learning how to ride a bicycle at the ripe old age of 11 or 12 (I think), terrorizing my sister while speeding up and down the paved roads of the cemetery in town, my mom made me learn the hand signals that you use on a bicycle to indicate which direction you're turning. Think blinking turn signals, but using your arms instead. And this was in spite of the fact that it was years until we'd ever be allowed to ride in a place where there was a hint of traffic to signal to.

Being grown up now and riding with traffic, prepared by my mother to be a safe and courteous rider, I dutifully signal at each of the 3 turns between my house and the lab here. And more often than not, I'm rather struck by the response of the motorists passing by and around me when I do so... probably nine times out of ten, they seem to think I'm waving to them, as they proceed to cut me off. I guess that's the midwest for you though - ever friendly ;-) Or maybe I'm so far out in the boonies that they're not used to seeing anyone bicycle to get anywhere, who knows.

Do people where you all live seem to understand what hand signals mean???


Eugenie said...

I take my chances, no helmet, listen to loud music an dart into traffic at will.

Karina said...

Here in Big City I read that you're supposed to signal a right turn with your right arm extended, rather than your left arm at a 90° angle as I learned in elementary school. What did you learn?

Transient Theorist said...

The same as you Karina... I'd prefer to do all the signaling with my left arm too, because I'm more stable with my right hand on my bike than my left.

I've been experimenting with making sure my palm is turned away from oncoming traffic, and that seems to maybe make a difference, at the price of some contortion.

sarcozona said...

My small mountain town is overrun with tourists and drivers from the low desert who have never driven in rain, never even seen snow, and are surprised at the difference between bikes in the gym and the bikes on the road. I find that the best death avoidance strategy is to ride smack dab in the middle of the lane and wave my arms about oddly when I want to turn to scare any nearby drivers into slowing down.