I Found My Bike!

Bicycles. I like to ride mine. It’s fun, centering, gets the blood flowing, exercise inducing and revelatory. There is peace on them thar pedals

I don’t get overly serious about it, so not to spoil my fun. I mean some things look just swell in lycra, but I’m not one of those things. I was very proud that I recently conquered a height fear and rode across a bridge into Canada. A few close friends do it all the time, but for me, a big deal.

Celebrated with coffee and a doughnut on the other side, but I digress. A meeting that I missed about planning on Buffalo’s east side ignited a thread on Facebook about bikes, bike helmets as well as who owns the road. The meeting was talking about a highway that was shoved and divided a neighborhood that didn’t have the political muscle a couple generations ago to be afforded consideration.

The discussion thread on Facebook started in discussing the differences about helmets, bike cultures in other countries and the like. One of the things the thread revealed to me was the existing biases about road traffic.

The thread resonated as over the summer I was out riding, in a bike lane, to meet two close friends who have deepened my love of pedal power through encouragement. I was in the bike lane, not sneaking through traffic, and a yahoo traveling in a car heading in the other direction cowardly yelled at me to “get on the sidewalk!” For the uninformed, that’s not where bikes ought to be with regularity. I sneak here and there, but I don’t make a habit of it as walkers and strollers get the sidewalks and prolonged bike existence there is a huge hazard.

I don’t know why said yahoo had an issue as I was traveling in the right direction in the proper lane. It’s funny to think that the painted white lines are the only things preventing bumper cars is painted white lines, but everybody is sure possessive about their share.

We can all be better. I think on that point, everybody can agree. I’m not so sure most motorists could pass a road test if they had to on given day. Red lights get run all the time. Stop signs get ignored or get a token slowing down, and for some people, keeping your car full of juice to run the turn signals is a tall order. Don’t get me started on the various definitions of “yield” I see on a daily basis.We are guilty (myself, included) of being the people George Carlin talked about: “There’s nobody going my speed!”

We seem to be a vortex that our own chosen path is the sole consideration, but it’s not a video game. I see the warnings to remember the motorcyclists when the weather improves. I also see if you stand at a busy street corner, you can see a number of drivers looking at their phones waiting for the light to change. Not all bike riders are pure either. Just like motorists, foolish selfish chances can get taken, but also just like motorists, the majority do attempt to follow the rules of the road. But we pedalers are allowed to proceed at the red traffic light if nothing is going on. Don’t be a hater as you burn fossil fuels in your Excursion. Hell, some pedestrians can’t cross the street without completing a phone conversation or updating their Facebook status.

And none of us are supposed to what we want. We are not supposed to be in a hierarchy of who gets to do what. Bike riders have been sold a bill of good about helmets. While the helmets help for certain injury situations, we have drunk the Kool-Aid so hard that folks are shamed about their use. In full disclosure, I wear one. I hate it.

It’s uncomfortable and makes me look like the Great Gazoo, but putting it on was my choice. It’s not a good look, making my cheeks look like a rain gutter for the bags under my eyes. I’d much rather let what’s left of my locks feel the breeze, but I’m on my own journey, NOT YOURS.

A friend reported on that on a trip to Europe, Holland specifically, that bikes are more numerous, and helmets aren’t as abundant, because there isn’t an automotive hierarchy. It’s not cars first. It’s a road and we all need to share and contribute and be aware that we are not the only people inhabiting it.

It’s a big road and there is room for everybody.

Racing in the Street

So, I bought a new set of wheels. I think it might have actually the right set this time. But the process one goes through in acquiring your car still astounds and is truly ridiculous. It is no wonder people hate the process as there is nothing good about it. It’s not a savory untaking and upon getting home after figure out what this button or that button does, along with where the hell is the aux port anyway, my first instinct was for a shower. The need for a snack and a nap won out.

I believe I got a good car. The deal was probably okay, but wasn’t “just a great deal” and more than a little patronizing.

People love cars. I know I do, but we are all conditioned to reduce the feeling of being screwed when acquiring one. The bells and whistles that get unnecessarily added have nothing to do with the customer experience. I didn’t give a crap about how big the dealership is. That means nothing….to any sane human being. It doesn’t make my deal better, it just pisses away my time.  Given that much time is wasted lugging between buildings, it wastes staff time. They seem to be okay with that, but me, not so much. It did prevent them from knowing what goes on in their own shop. Apparently many insurance companies demand a photo inspection for your purchase. “No problem” they say, just drive over to the body shop. You drive over to the body shop to find that those pictures get done between 10 am and 2pm? No, not really, helpful.

I didn’t ask for any accessories, but had to listen to the accessory lady give her spiel. Only to have the billing guy deny me the stuff I didn’t want in the first place.

By this point I needed to get something from my current car and had to ask to get my key back. I mean they were done looking for the low ball trade and I did need it to go home that night, it shouldn’t be a gimmick “we got his key, we got him…” The car I want is going to take another day to get prepped, put some value on my time and dignity and let me go home.

All this after waiting 15 minutes on a stormy night for an salesperson to emerge from the back office to give a crap for an appointment I had scheduled for a repair question. When we went for a ride in what I purchased, it took him another 15 minutes to find a license plate.  You’d think on a stormy night, they’d be a little more interested in business. Same thing happened to another woman, waiting for the sales staff to emerge from their backroom flapping.

I got a good car, but their sending me a coffee mug full of jolly ranchers isn’t the way to keep business. It can be simpler and should be.