The other week a friend of mine and I were out zipping though the hills when she noticed an odd sound from her back wheel as we propelled ourselves up Buckhill.  We stopped so that she could look at it and a resident came toward us, asking if we needed any help.  She assured him that she had it figured out and while Debbie tinkered with her cadence sensor, I talked with the kind gentleman. I asked him what his neighbors feel about having us in their neighborhood by the scores; his response may surprise you.

At first he said, “Oh, we like to see y’all out here, exercising and so forth.  It’s nice to see.  But, I tell you what, when you all just stop in the middle of the road, that’s kind of bothersome.”
I know just what he meant.  You’ve seen it too. We get to the end of south Buckhill and wait for our friends to catch up, and we just stand there on the side of the road, waiting. The problem comes when we have a big group and we stretch across the road.

He reported that this occurs also at the end of Turnpike Road and 561, as we wait for it to clear enough to cross. I’ve seen it.  Heck, I’m sure I have done it too.  We don’t think about the cars that may be lining up behind us. We have a right to the roadThey just need to get over it. 

Is that the best attitude? What can we do to help our cause, rather than creating more animosity between driver & cyclists? While  perhaps true statements, maybe we can act on them differently.

Let’s see if we can be a bit more courteous to those we share the road with. The law is on our side for 2 abreast while riding.  As long as we do not IMPEDE traffic we can safely ride 2 wide.  But we cannot take up the entire lane (events seem to fall under a little different line of thinking that we can address another time.) There is a difference in a driver being INCONVENIENCED by a few seconds and one being IMPEDED.

In the meantime, why don’t we work our driver / cyclist relationship in the community and see how it can be improved? Talk to drivers, smile, wave and be an ambassador for our sport.

Harry Fenstad, the ‘water cooler man’ at the top of Sugarloaf has told me just about the same thing as Buckhill Man.  He loves for us to stop by and has even asked me to pass the word that he would like for us to fill his driveway.  He asks that we don’t gather in the road and that we stay on the correct side of the road.  His neighbors get scared when we are over the yellow line.  Let’s build trust with motorists, not make them afraid of us.

May I encourage you to talk to locals when you stop?To purchase a little something when you use the convenience store rest room?  To say “Hey there!” as you pass people in their yards? It’s really hard to have bad feelings for people when they are nice to you. Let’s see if – together – we can improve our reputation of being rude, self-centered cyclists in central Florida.

It’s just a little something to think about….