Editor’s note: In a world of all too often conflicts between cyclists, cars and pedestrians, creating a community is critical to all, sometimes the smallest of gestures make the biggest impacts
By Sarah Rutherford
In Colorado, we live in a cycling mecca where we’re lucky enough to be able to ride outside all year. On one of those amazing crisp days, I rolled out for a decently long ride with an attitude full of sunshine and rainbows. The sun was out, the sky was blue; I could almost hear the incidental music of my personal movie score starting to playing in the background.
As soon as I hit the path I encountered my first fellow cyclist. I gave a broad smile accompanied with a head nod in acknowledgment of this most perfect day and the fact that we were both so lucky to be out in it. I got nothing back. It was like I just passed a hologram of a person on a bike giving me a glassy-eyed blank stare unable to engage with an actual human being. Whatever… I gave them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they were having a horrible day or they were so deep in thought because they were solving the world hunger crisis at that very moment.
My second chance at human interaction was soon to follow but this time I changed tactics with a subtle hand wave and smile. Instead of being completely ignored, this time I was stared down by a gentleman with a predatory gaze like a lion before it pounces on its next meal. It was so intense, in fact, that I looked down to see if my jersey was inappropriately unzipped. Again, no wave, nod, or smile attached to that stare. I tried several more times to elicit amicable responses with other cyclists but to no avail.
What is wrong with us as a group that we can’t acknowledge one another for being in the same place at the same time doing the same thing? No one is working that hard or going that fast on the C-470 bike path where they can’t manage a nod. Speed isn’t even a good excuse since motorcyclists succeed in giving a wave to their two-wheeled comrades while flying down the highway at full throttle.
At my day job, commonly brought up topics of daily discussion are the lack of community and basic decency along with a growing scarcity of manners. As cyclists, we have an ever-expanding community to lean on but we treat each other like dicks out on rides. You don’t need to wave like you’re waving at your mom on the first day of school but a little acknowledgment of “I got your back” goes a long way.
No one is that cool that they can’t be nice to another person. I think even Peter Sagan, a guy who actually IS that cool, would give a little flick of the head to others. I will give you that there are a few exceptions when niceties can be overlooked: while racing, descending a steep grade, cornering, and if you crashed. Outside of these things you’re just being a jerk.
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” Here’s the chance to be a ripple of kindness and courtesy that has a far-reaching effect on others in the cycling community breeding a sense of respect and admiration.