Bicycles are sensitive to the moods of the cars around them in the same manner as gazelles are sensitive to the mood of the cheetah. Are they hungry? Are they sleepy? Are they likely to drift over into the bike lane?
Yesterday I was bicycling with the Contraption Captain, towing my youngest behind me in a bike wagon. I'm wider when I tow the wagon and my awareness is heightened by having my kid in close proximity. So when I saw a large pick-up truck approach behind me I paid extra attention.
At the time I was riding past a middle school and in a school zone. Kids everywhere, crossing the street and being let out of cars but the truck was coming up behind me fast and now it was swinging out towards the yellow line because it wanted to get around me. Oncoming traffic had a steady stream of parents leaving the area via car after dropping their kids off. In front of me a series of parked cars narrowed the road. Usually I would continue on and pass those parked cars but the truck made me nervous and instead I pulled over behind the parked cars and let the truck go by. Then I went out and followed the truck up the road. I was close behind because as I mentioned this was a highly trafficked area and despite the truck acting like a hummingbird on cocaine no one was getting anywhere quickly.
We get to a stop sign. At this stop the truck has only one choice. Straight. To the left is an illegal left, a one-way street marked with a huge sign that says "DO NOT ENTER." The truck hesitates and then says "wtf! i goferit!!" and then I see the back of the truck as he whales off the wrong way up a one way road. I stop, amazed, and look after the truck for a moment thinking about the surprise a car will get heading up that road going in the correct direction.
Then I continue on. Behind me the remaining cars seem...sobered.