Living Car Free - Becoming a familiar part of the local scenery
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One interesting side effect of being carfree is that you quickly become a familiar part of the scenery in your neighborhood. Motorists travel the streets rather anonymously in their enclosed vehicles. On the other hand, a person walking or on a bike is seen by everyone and easily recognized by friends and neighbors.
I'd guess that nearly every horn honk I get from cars whizzing by is not from anyone who is trying to startle me, but from people who are just trying to say hi. Most of the time, I can't look up fast enough to see who it was but my policy is to always smile and wave just in case it was a neighbor or a friend.
I also use the smile & wave thing when it looks like a motorist might pull out in front of me or hook me on a turn. It may feel a little dorky to do that, but it always makes them pay attention to their driving, and they usually wave back.
06-25-05, 02:46 PM
I've noticed that too... I was getting my hair cut at a new place a few weeks ago and the stylist said "Hey, I always see you out on your bike around town, I'm really proud of you for doing that". I've been honked at by people wanting to say hi and give thumbs-ups too. But, some of it could be because I live in a small college-town as well.
I always get to know an area better when riding instead of being in a car. Recently, I gave my sister-in-law directions to a neighborhood grocery store because she didn't know where it was! I told her that I've seen it all the time, and she was shocked that she hadn't seen it for the amount of times she's driven past it. I told her you see a LOT more by bike than you do whizzing past in a car. ;)
06-25-05, 10:21 PM
Oh yeah you see a lot more, and people see YOU. And this is a good thread, since it's a real factor, if people see YOU regularly, if something happens they're more likely to help out a human being than an anonymous metal box.
06-27-05, 07:58 AM
I'm even more recognized than most because I ride a recumbent. All I have to say is "I ride a recumbent" and people will say "Is that you I see riding up the hill every day? I see you all the time!" Even the bikers on the other side of the street on my morning commute recognize me more than I recognize them. (They all kinda look the same to me.) Of course, I'm too busy riding and zoning out to really notice anybody else.
06-27-05, 11:07 AM
This is all so true - You see familiar faces, they see you. I find I even talk to vehicle drivers, mostly mail delivery, bus drivers. Because of this visibility it is also important to be a good part of the community, for example to give full right of way to pedistrians, stop for everyone when they are crossing at a x-walk, etc.
But the attitude of being more part of the place can also be increased when driving a car. I always drive with my windows down, even in mid-day summer. I also obey all speed limits all the time and drive very gently in residential areas. These two things combined really help you see more things and be more part of the environment, not as much as a bike, but better than being in an icy high speed box.
(I am not car free, but do cycle 90% of the places I go)
06-27-05, 11:54 AM
It's true that you see all sorts of people and people see you.
My favorites of late:
-- all through the spring, I saw a pregnant woman out for an afternoon walk when i was riding home. i didn't see her for a week or so, and then she was back, walking at the same time but with the newborn and accompanied by both a proud father and a very proud grandmother. if i keep working where i do and she doesn't move, i'll probably end up watching that kid grow up.
-- the pretty but very tomboy-ish girl that works as a greenskeeper at the golf course that i skirt on part of my route. it took her the better part of a month before she'd respond when i said good morning. mostly out of surprise, i think, since the trail comes around a corner and from behind a stand of trees right by the green she's always keeping at that time of the morning.
-- the guy in the mid-50s that rides his 5spd Schwinn and that always wears at least one piece of day-glo orange. his commute is about the same as the middle ten miles of mine. i just hope i'm still riding like that in 20 years.
and that's just the commute.
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