Many who know me know I am an avid bicycle commuter, riding daily trough the year. Today it was a quiet morning, a beautiful sunny day with a temperature in the mid 60’s. To me this is a perfect morning to ride. I was riding down a road I ride multiple times a day on my way to work. I approached approaching a four way stop that I go through multiple times daily. Approaching the intersection I looked in all directions and saw there was no one visible in any direction. To my left there are trees and visibility is limited but no one visible approaching or at the intersection. I went through the stop sign without even slowing down. As I got into the intersection a large Chevy impala approached and then stopped at the sign. The driver respectfully said out the window, “There’s a stop sign.” I was instantly convicted. He was right in that I did not follow the rules, or display good character. I justify this non stop by saying how much effort it is to start back up. I began thinking if he had made the same choice, perhaps justifying it saying it was best for his fuel mileage, I would have likely been struck by his car and my perfect morning would have taken a very different direction. I continued my ride thinking about character.
Character is who you are when no one is looking… I continued to think about what image do you want to project. The actions you undertake generally have effect beyond just that moment. In may places their exists animosity between auto drivers and bicyclists. An issue that can end badly for someone on a bike. I certainly did not want to contribute to this. In seeing riders who cut sharply across traffic, ride in the middle of the road or into traffic I usually want to yell at them myself. At one time I was a few hundred feet behind an older rider who chose to make a right turn in to a traffic lane without stopping or apparently looking because he was struck by a van. He bounced along the side of the van after he was clear the van attempted to stop. The rider waved and said “its all right”… My response was “no its not” you totally blew into traffic, how does that driver feel? Riders like this make all of us look bad, creating negative image of bicyclists in the minds of auto drivers. As a rider is us usually a good idea to approach your ride like you were an auto following traffic laws. I appreciate the use of bike paths but have taken advantage of the occasional “rolling stop”when no one is looking.
I want to thank the driver of that impala for correcting my behavior and offering a check of my character.
In karate this happens often. We do our practice thinking we may have done it the way that is correct but a well tuned eye will catch even a minor detail. They will call you out on what they see. The next step is what to do with it… Do you defend your action saying I thought… or do you take the correction and examine what was offered and find out what it has to offer? Perhaps that correction will keep you from bouncing off the side of a van, or worse, in your future.