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Roadside Detente

Posted by Bruce Hildenbrand Feb 2, 2010

Trying to share the road with car drivers is a subject I have written about in the past. It always seems that in any confrontation there is nothing positive to be gained. Tensions are usually on high and a busy street isn't the most conducive to having a constructive conversation.

 

Yesterday, while I was riding on Skyline Boulevard(AKA Highway 35) in the Santa Cruz mountains above Silicon Valley I was passed very closely by a tow truck, so closely in fact, that it was all I could do to keep from being run off the road. It was a familiar scenario. A wide truck on a narrow mountain road and just as the truck came upon me, a car was coming in the opposite direction.

 

The truck driver could have braked and waited to pass until after the car had passed, but he chose to crowd our lane of the road almost forcing me off into the dirt. I got most of the license plate number, looked at my cyclocomputer and gave very serious thought to calling the country sheriffs and reporting the incident when I got home.

 

About a mile up the road, I came upon the tow truck pulled to the side of the road; the driver was checking to make sure his load, a recently crashed single engine airplane, was secure. As I rode past I made sure to verify the license plate number (7V17572) and the name of the towing service. Armed with that information I was all but certain that I would report the incident to the county sheriffs.

 

But, as I passed the truck, I thought that enough time had passed since the incident and the road was quiet enough that maybe I could talk to the driver and let him know my concerns. So, I did a U-turn and went back to the truck. I approached the driver calmly and said, "I just wanted you to know that you passed me very closely back there on the road."

 

His response was, "Yes. I know. I came upon you on a curve and there was another car coming so I had to move over. But, I know where you are coming from. My brother rides a bike."

 

I wasn't completely satisfied with his response, but it was a calm exchange and hopefully he had a bit better understanding of where I was coming from. When he passed me a few minutes later, he gave me a safe buffer zone.

 

So, what's the moral of this story? Heck, I don't know. Maybe it is just that if the conditions are right, maybe you can make an attempt to let a car driver know how you feel about their driving.

 

Bruce

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