I guess the “Visualize Turn Signals” bumper sticker was a reaction to the “Visualize World Peace” bumper stickers, indicating, perhaps, that drivers would be better off concentrating on how to make the world around them safer than the world at large more peaceful. As a cyclist, I count on the fact that all drivers are reckless, careless and think I’m an asshole.
Now, I can’t entirely blame cars for thinking that I’m an asshole, because I see, both as a driver and a as a cyclist, a lot of asshole bikers. They run lights instead of treating them like stop signs (which is allowed under Idaho Code); they don’t look before turning; some of them even use their phones while riding. But I’m not like that. I’m a paranoid cyclist, or perhaps a realist cyclist, because if every car really is out to get me, that’s not paranoia, right?
The other day I made a post on Facebook about a car that had not turned right in front of me. I was offering kudos to this random driver, because they respected the rules of the road and treated me like a vehicle. Just as they would not turn right in front of another car, or a motorcycle, so too did they wait patiently for the light to turn, and for me to clear out, before completing their right turn. However, on Facebook, the response was not what I expected. Expressions of concern for my safety and well-being, instead of kudos for the good car.
Maybe I wasn’t as clear as I could have been, but, frankly, car horror stories are more the norm than tales of law abiding safety. Just this week, I was approaching that same intersection as the light was about to go green. The first car in line had a turn signal on, so I slowed, not wanting to ride into their turn path. The second car in line had no signal, so I rode up beside it, hoping to cross the street in line with it and let cars behind turn if they wanted to. But as I drew abreast, the turn signal came on and I braked.
Was I supposed to keep going, with an obliviousness that assumes cars won’t hit me? I don’t know. The car, to give it credit, also braked, and I started pedaling again, releasing a brief obscenity regarding turn signals into the air. It being a brisk 40 degrees outside, I doubt the driver heard me.
Maybe it’s time to replace my bicycle bell with an air horn.