July 4, 2011
Fifty riders showed up for our bike club’s 25 mile Independence Day ride, which was one of many group rides throughout Georgia this holiday weekend commemorating the signing of HB 101, known as the "Better Bicycling Bill."
In an ironic twist, the mob of riders--most of them not club members, I hasten to add--rode in a manner contrary to the “share the road” safety and etiquette principles codified by the very bill we were celebrating. Riders took the lane as a rolling mass on all but the busiest of roads, forcing drivers who followed HB 101’s “three foot passing rule” to travel in the opposing lane of traffic for extended distances. Traffic lights? Once the first rider made it through on a green, the rest of the group followed, ignoring light changes and trusting the cars with the green to patiently await our passage.
No one honked at us, proffered an indecent finger, or even revved their engine impatiently.
This is Savannah, after all, where friends who spot each other while driving stop and roll down their windows to chat, while cars pile up behind them on both sides of the road graciously waiting for their conversation to be completed. Drivers here are used to crawling behind horse-drawn carriages and slow-moving trolley tours on narrow city streets.
It was a holiday, and no one was in any particular hurry. They seemed to just enjoy the spectacle of an unexpected little Fourth of July parade (and we were quite a festive eyeful, in our colorful jerseys--many of them patriotic red white and blue—with Karen Dove Barr’s twin stars and stripes pinwheels spinning wildly on her handlebars).
We completed our ride accident-free, and a great time was had by all, so I guess I shouldn’t worry about it, but I just don’t think it was fair that all the car drivers were polite to us, but we weren’t so polite to them. It may have been Independence Day, but out on the road car drivers and bicycle riders are interdependent partners every day.
Here's to the Better Bicycling Bill--may it inspire us to improve our bicycling as much as we expect it to inspire our partners on the road to improve their driving!