Apr 102024
Go Ahead, Make My Day

This post isn’t about what you think it is. It has nothing to do with Clint Eastwood, Dirty Harry, or hand guns. Or anime, for that matter, if you’re thinking of a different movie/TV reference. And it’s not about the song.

Instead, it’s about the many examples of friendly behavior I encountered on one particular ride to work this week. I’m riding every day for 30 days of biking. Some days that’s a check-the-box ride around my neighborhood loop, some days that’s a ride with a destination. Today it was the latter.

Less than a block from the neighborhood loop I encountered Friendly Moment : The driver of an Intercity Transit bus on the route came up behind me and moved over the better part of a lane to leave a safe passing distance going around. Yes, this is Washington state law for safe passing, but I appreciate it—even more given the mass of a city bus and those projecting side mirrors.

Friendly Moment was on my part: I passed a woman going for walk the other direction, smiled and said good morning. My experience of Olympia has been that people are very neighborly and I do my part.

Friendly Moment was at a tricky spot on my route to downtown. On a steep downhill I have a stop sign and then a left turn onto the rest of the steep downhill, which has two curves to the stop sign at the bottom and is narrow enough that it has a sign that says “yield to uphill traffic.” I know from experience that a driver coming up the hill can’t see the stop sign at the turn until after they’ve come around the shoulder of the slope they’re climbing. They don’t have a stop sign; I do. Two vehicles approached uphill as I came to my stop. The first driver in line came to a stop and waved to me so I smiled and waved my thanks, made my left turn, and headed downhill. Glancing back I noticed they were proceeding straight so they made a point of stopping for me; it wasn’t that they were going to make a right turn anyway.

I pedaled along the water’s edge in the bike lane, rounded the corner at the end of the inlet, then took a left into the downtown core. I hit a stretch of what I might describe as friendly signal timing and state law combined: one of those great sequences where I was able to safely roll a stop sign (legal for a bicyclist in Washington under specific circumstances), catch “green wave” signal timing at two lights in a row that let me keep going as they turned green, then roll another stop and head up the hill. Somewhere in that uphill stretch, Friendly Moment : A driver who didn’t hurry to make a left turn and cut me off and instead waited to turn, knowing that their engine will easily overcome any microsecond delay created by waiting politely for me to huff and puff up the hill. That happened twice on this trip, actually.

Riding home, more friendly moments: Another driver who didn’t jump into the intersection and waited for me to make my turn. Me smiling at someone walking in the crosswalk past my bike. And another perfect moment of timing up a slight rise to a stop sign where I often have to wait for cross traffic that can be heavy.

Sometimes, like today, I hit that golden balancing moment. I look down the road to my left to gauge oncoming traffic so I arrive at the intersection with the right amount of momentum: I can stop if there’s traffic from my right (which I can’t see until I get there due to a building on the corner), or I can pump it and keep going if it’s clear in both directions. Today I could pedal on, happy and free and full of friendly moments.

Sharing is karma--pass it along!

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