Musings on Bicycling and Buddhism

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Room for Improvement

Dear Mr. Tractor Trailer Truck Driver,

While I understand very well that your esteemed colleagues and yourself drive long hours to the farthest reaches of the country at ungodly hours in even the worst weather, under a deadline, and that most of us would not have access to almost all of the things we take for granted every day without you; really no matter where you are in this fine country, and as far as I know, everywhere else- a red light means stop.  And while I understand that I am, on this bicycle or not, always much smaller than you, that does not change the fact that the red light still means stop.  You probably spend more hours on the road than most, I would imagine you would know this very well.

Now we cyclists, as diverse a bunch as we are, get a bad wrap as folks to run lights, stop signs; cut off pedestrians, cars, kitties crossing the street, well- you get the idea...  Anyway even though my bicycle has no engine and only two wheels to your eighteen- as far as the law is concerned I have just as much right to the roads as you do.  And just as much responsibility to obey traffic laws.

This morning when I came to the Boston end of the Mass Ave Bridge to the light with Beacon Street and the light was red, I stopped.  You did not elect to make that decision.  Several seconds after I stopped, on the stop line too! mind you... Here you come and slow down enough to stop, but do you stop? No...  first you bump into me with your front right wheel casing and then begin your right turn, and due to the lovely turn radius of a trailer then hit me with your trailer as you turn.  Perhaps I now come off as daft or insane?  Yes, it is legal to make a right on red in Massachusetts, don't get me wrong; but into oncoming traffic, cutting of cars that have the right of way? Really?  I did get off my bicycle and got out of your way and I wonder if you heard me yell: "Thanks for stopping at the red light!" at the top of my lungs, probably not considering the rain...

Today you have done your profession a disservice.  Growing up with a father who was a mechanic, he worked almost exclusively on big rigs, in my youth I always had an awe of big rig drivers.  As a job in high school I worked at a car garage.  These same guys were some of the most considerate folks who came in. Having been aided by truckers when in stranded automobiles my esteem was not diminished.  But today when you almost took my life my consideration vanished.

My point is that I should not have to wonder if I'm going to be run off the road or run over when I act under my legal obligation to stop at a red light.  Really it's not that complicated.

So the next time you see a bicycle start through a light a little early, it may not be some lazy jerkface- maybe it's a person with a burning desire to live, trying to preserve their own existence.

These worlds do not have to be at odds.  They do not have to be mutually exclusive.  My father worked on big rigs, but he also built bicycles and rode them with great enthusiasm.  He may not be alive now to comment for himself, but treading on another human being this way is never okay.

Signed the feisty girl on the blue bicycle who likes vegetables and takes on buses daily, and now tractor trailer trucks... apparently

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Tour de What You Will by Jessie Calkins is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License