Saturday, November 19, 2011

having a thrill 4 ways

One of the great (often unappreciated) pleasures for a bicyclist is the intersection of two streets with a stop sign facing in each direction, aka the 4-way stop.  There is much moaning and grinding of teeth about the 4-way stop from bicyclists (waste of impetus!) and cars (waste of gas!  bicyclists suck!) alike.  But...what I want to address is just a small facet of the 4-way that can be a very enjoyable experience for the bicyclist.

Try this.

Find a 4-way stop in your area that gets a non-trivial amount of traffic.  Approach it at a relatively busy time of day.  There will be cars lining up in all four directions.  Some are going straight, some are turning.  For the most part* they approach the intersection, stop, wait their turn, and then go.

What you do:  Fall in to place behind one of the cars waiting in line.  Go forward as they go forward until you reach the front of the line.  Now my friend it is your turn to travel through the intersection.  Commence pedaling.  Clip in calmly---not that usual frantic desperate clipping in because the light is too short for bicyclists.  Now pedal sedately and law-abidingly through the intersection while watched by at least four desperate sets of automobile eyes.    Savor.  Think about it, how many opportunities in bicycling do you have to pedal gently through an intersection while four cars sit and watch?  Savor.  Enjoy.  Pedal.

*of course there is always the car driven by that same kid you knew in kindergarten who stuffed extra cookies into his mouth when the bowl got passed around.  The kid who in middle school went to the front of the line and stepped on your foot, hard, if you complained.  The kid who in high school knocked your lunch tray onto the ground.  Watch out for that kid.  Some things never change.

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