I’m the kind of driver who insists on seat belts. The kind of driver who gets paranoid about going over the speed limit. The kind of driver who signals lane changes and turns and (mostly) stops when the light has turned yellow.
Okay, let me qualify that. I do these things in Idaho, because even after seven years of living here, I don’t feel like a resident. This is not my traffic comfort zone. Give me Chicago and its suburbs, and I’ll dance close to ten miles per hour over the street limits and push fifteen to twenty over the highway limits – more if it keeps me with the flow of traffic. I’ll gun through yellow lights, especially downtown where not to do so could result in less than pleasant confrontations with fellow drivers. Drivers in Chicago are crazy, but it’s a crazy I grew up with and learned to accommodate.
Drivers in Idaho are an entirely different sack of potatoes.
Take winter driving. Believe it or not, it snows here on a regular basis. You wouldn’t know it by the way drivers react to the first (and second, and third) snowfall of the winter. I’ll admit it’s not as bad as Santa Fe. There, they see a good amount of snow every year, and every year the drivers retreat to a snail-like mentality, treating their cars as if they were never designed with snow in mind. In Idaho, people just drive as if there were no snow on the road. Unfortunately, seeing as there is, in fact, snow on the road, this does not produce the desired results.
Along with being too cheap to invest in snow tires for my bike, that’s the reason I won’t ride my bike when it snows, especially now that my entire route is on streets instead of mostly on a bike path. Bad enough that I fear for my life every time I approach the Broadway and Beacon intersection, because turn signals are apparently optional in Idaho, but to add the factor of less control not only for my own vehicle, but for every other vehicle on the road? No, thank you.
I’ll brave the cold on my bicycle. After all, I can prepare for that with ever increasing layers, and it doesn’t take that long for me to ride to work. I’ll brave the traffic that doesn’t understand the importance of turn signals and seems to find my presence on the road an annoyance at best. But I will not brave snowy streets on my bicycle.
At least, not with the way cars are driven in Boise.