Likely the most important base assumption that I think every cyclist should make before venturing out on the road is this; every car, every truck, every bus, every vehicle of every kind is out to run you over. You do this because if you start from this position then you are starting out in safest defensive riding mode and you can dial it down a bit as the situation warrants, but don’t because everyone is out to run you over. I don’t recommend starting from the opposite end of the spectrum and then dial it up to the everyone is out to get you mode as needed, because they may get you before you can dial it up. This frame of mind has so far served me well in my years as both a bicyclist and motorcyclist. You may think this a negative position, but au contraire, you finish a ride happy with all the people who didn’t try to run you over, rather than pissed at the few who actually did almost smoosh you. Ending a ride happy is better than ending a ride pissed. 😉
Which brings me to all the types of people out there who will run you over or in some cases cause you to be run over. But here’s the thing, I can’t remember someone actually wanting to run me over, people just don’t want to run you over. People aren’t really trying to run you over at all and you know this because, if people wanted to run you over, you’d be run over by now. Cars are big and fast and you wouldn’t stand a chance. People don’t want to run you over, they aren’t trying to at all, but they still might because there are Numpties, Assholes and Canadians littering our streets.
Numpties are the idiots that don’t think its legal to move out of their lane to pass you, so they idle along in your blind spot until you get to a wide shoulder and pull off, you turn on a side street, or you just plain stop and let them go by (which I have done on occasion). Numpties are the people who sit at 4-way stops waving you on regardless of whose turn it is and they won’t quit waving until everyone else at the intersection is angry or until you’ve gone ahead and risked going out of order while hoping that you are not run over by the now angered, other drivers. Numpties are the kind of people who give you your full legally required 3 feet minimum leeway as they pass, but forget they are pulling their horse trailer with their dually pickup with the extra wide trailer mirrors. Numpties are the drivers who race ahead of you to get their righthand turn in before you get there, but Numpties are also the drivers who come to a dead stop in the middle of the traffic to let you ride by before they turn, but you are like a half mile from them so people start passing them on the shoulder which is coincidentally exactly where you are riding.
Numpties are not confined to cars, Numpties also ride bikes. Numpty cyclist are the cyclists who ride side by side on busy roads blocking traffic rather than ride single file close the shoulder in an attempt to fairly share the road. Numpty cyclist are those who roll through all the intersections as if traffic signs & signals don’t apply to them. I recently saw this happen on Northwest, with the Numpty cyclists smiling and waving as they were being flipped off for not stopping at a busy 4-way stop. I fear that it is the Numpty cyclists that nurture the next group of people that might run you over; the Assholes.
Granted, some people seem to be born Assholes, with their “assholiness” being evidenced in all walks of their life, but a lot of seemingly decent people just become Assholes around cyclists. I like to think it’s because they are jealous, but I know it’s more likely that they became Assholes toward cyclist from dealing with Numpty cyclist or self-righteous Asshole cyclists. I think we, as cyclists, should follow the dictates of both traffic law and common courtesy when we are out riding because we owe it to every other cyclist to not create more Assholes, as we have enough already.
And there are the so easily dissectible Canadians. Canadians can just be thought of as polite Numpties. It really is as simple as that. We live close to the border so I ride in and amongst Canadians quite regularly and can make this observation first hand; I don’t think I’ve ever come across an asshole Canadian. Nope, not a one. They can be ignorant, arrogant, oblivious, distracted and stupid, all of which can be dangerous to cyclists, but they do it in a polite apologetic non-asshole way. Canadians are polite Numpties.
Just last weekend I pulled over, to shake my head, after just surviving a sort of Numpty trifecta in the little town of Everson. I was riding south out of town on one of the busy roads, which of course has no shoulder, unless you count a ditch as a “shoulder.” So I was riding along balancing on the white line while watching a Canadian/Numpty in my rearview, they were about 2 feet from my left heel and matching my 15 mph speed. They weren’t passing me no way no how, even with no oncoming cars and good clear vision ahead. So as the traffic stacks up behind them and they are running out of space to easily and safely pass me, a car from the middle of the line, decides they need to illegally pass everyone ahead of them, including the Numpty/Canadian who had finally decided to cross the line and pass me. So an Asshole is now passing a Canadian who is passing me in a no passing zone on a narrow shoulder-less road. But you know what? I was, in my head, smiling at these Numpties. I wasn’t pissed, or dead, I was watching the whole thing happen around me, knowing that I wasn’t going to actually get smooshed because I was riding like everyone on the road was out to kill me dead. I had my out, which I didn’t need to take, even when the Canadian cut back towards me to avoid the Asshole passing them.