An Open Letter To The Drivers Of Spriggs Road (Northbound)

Hello There,

You may remember me.  I’m the cyclist who occasionally rides on Spriggs Road, an activity you find so objectionable that you have taken to all manner of honking horns, gesticulating gestures, shouts, and brazen near-misses to communicate your displeasure with me.

I’d like to chat a moment.  Thanks.

Over 18 months, I’ve traveled on every major road in the county and a great many of the not-so-major roads.  While cyclists are often subjected to rude behavior by car drivers, I can honestly say that the drivers of Spriggs Road are without peer in this regard.  Yours is not the busiest street, nor the narrowest, longest, most poorly-paved, or in any other manner distinctive.  But you take the prize for collectively being the biggest jerks in our fair county.

One can only imagine what trauma has brought you to this point.  The road you drive on is a modest one, only five miles in length.  It is bordered by Forest Park High School (home of the Bruins!) on the south and a church on the north.  In between, there is another church, a synagogue, a grocery store, a middle school and yet another high school (Hylton High – home of the Bull Dogs!).  All things considered, very blaze. 

So why the hate and discontent?  I would chalk it up to a few unfortunate coincidents, but the number of incidents is now too many on too regular a basis for too long.  I’d blame the high school students (boys will be boys), but I’ve been carved up by work trucks and all other types of traffic, like the minivan that honked as it passed me today.  No, something else is afoot in this suburban utopia – I just can’t imagine what it might be.

And why do you only object to my northward travel?  I’ve pedaled southward on Spriggs easily four dozen times without incident – not even one.  Northbound, mayhem ensues, like the car that didn’t see me when he flew onto the road from Minnieville, then honked his horn at my temerity for existing in his path.  Or the sedan driver who slowed down and shouted out his window for me to get out of the road.  Or the work truck.  Or the minivan.  Or several others I could mention.  You get my point.

Here’s the thing:  I’m allowed on the road.  You’re not allowed to yell at me, threaten me, tell me to get off the road, deliberately drive within inches of me, honk your horn as you pass me, or any of the other aggressive acts you routinely do.  Please consider my bike to be a lawful vehicle on the road, because that’s what it is.  You wouldn’t act this way toward any motored vehicle that was moving slowly with its flashers on, nor even a horse and buggy.  Please give me the same consideration.  Thank you in advance.

In the meanwhile, I suggest you compare notes with the drivers of other streets in the area.  For the most part, they seem to have figured this out.  At the very least, consult with the southbound drivers on Spriggs.  On that side of the road, they are a very tolerant lot.

Thank you for your attention.  I have no doubt you are very busy – by your actions behind the wheel it appears you are usually on some critically important task which you are very late at doing.  Take care, and safe travels.

Steve

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15 thoughts on “An Open Letter To The Drivers Of Spriggs Road (Northbound)

  1. It is odd is it not that drivers get so irate at being held up a few seconds by a bike but take tractors buses etc with no trouble. Perhaps it is merely the lack of mechanical noise they object to. Maybe if we all road with cards in our spokes to make that sound like we did as kids the drivers would accept our right to use the roads too.

  2. Steve, is that road on the way home from work for many people? I nearly never ride at these times, but Rush Hour is always the most harrowing, even in France where there’s really not much rush at all.

    I feel for you, no matter what the reasons are.

    • I try to avoid rush hour as well. Even during the mid-day can be a bit of an adventure. Yesterday’s ride was on a Sunday afternoon, so rush hour was not a factor. I suspect it has more to do with the geography of the road than anything else. Almost every building I mentioned is on the east side of the road, along with most of the side streets. Therefore, a northbound cyclist has to contend with many more people who are almost at their destination or just getting started or trying to get on Spriggs from a side street. I’m guessing that’s why their frustration levels are higher.

  3. It’s no good writing letters to motorists. Most of them can’t read or have serious eyesight problems otherwise they would be able to read speed limit signs and see cyclists. You need to name and shame in the manner of the excellent 101 Wankers website.

    • That is a great site, isn’t it? I can’t say my frustration levels have reached that point, but your comment on the visual accuity of drivers is an excellent one.

    • I’d imagine in Montreal you have the added experience of being yelled at in two languages! Bilingual heckling would be an interesting twist.

      It’s not terribly bad in my part of the world. My biggest challenge is cycling is not very popular (relative to the size of the population) and thus drivers are often surprised to see me. This makes them unhappy.

  4. Over here motorists are not so bad as yours it appears but they seem to give reverence to horse riders on the open road they never would to a cyclist.
    It was only last Saturday when we were passing through a village on the club ride that a motorist gave 2 horse riders, who by the way were riding 2 abreast such a wide berth that he forced us over into the kerb on our side of the road. We had dutifully been riding single file through the village as well.
    He didn’t consider staying behind the horses for a few minutes was an option!

    • Based on my limited experience in England, it appears to me that drivers there are more accustomed to seeing cyclists on the road and are prepared to deal with them. When you get into problems, it’s because there is a minority of drivers who have decided cyclists are a nuisance and should be intimidated whenever possible. Your incidents occur less often, but when they do there is usually malice involved.

      In America (outside of large cities) cyclists are a novelty and drivers are usually surprised to come across them in the road. Cyclists are usually seen on multi-use paths, ambling slowly. Cyclists who actually get on the road and travel with cars are a shock and thus I experience all sorts of idiocy born out of ignorance.

      In short, I believe there is a conflict in England between cyclists and motorists. In America, that isn’t possible because most motorists don’t realize that cyclists even exist.

    • I think drivers behave poorly in general and cyclists shouldn’t be an exception to that general rule. It’s just that road rage is a far more intimate experience when one experiences it on a bicycle.

  5. Your letter made me laugh but, amusing writing aside, I do feel for you. Cyclists have to have thick skins sometimes.

    I’ve heard LOTS of stories locally about drivers being abusive but luckily I have seldom encountered it myself. I even had one compliment me on my signalling once! On the other hand, I have observed that nothing confuses and aggravates Edmonton drivers as much as waiting behind a cyclist who is making a left turn. I don’t really understand that because if I was driving a car they’d STILL have to wait behind me until I made my turn.

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