Death of the Wave
Ive been riding bikes since I was four. Ive been a cyclist since I was 17. You could say Ive been around the block a few times during those years. I have raced down hill when you rode a hardtail and only had 3 of front suspension. It amazes me how as cycling has grown its become segregated. Im not talking in the sense of the types of cycling disciplines, which have also grown, but the types of cyclists. You have the fixie, fair weather and club riders, hipsters, tri-sters, recumbants, commuters, racers, weekend warriors, and I think Im a pro cyclists. We all use the same roads but most days when I ride my bike to work I get the feeling Im the only person on a bike on that road. Are others simply too focused on not getting hit by fossil fuel death traps we call cars, too focused on looking for pot holes, visually impaired, cant ride with one hand, or are them simply so disconnected from their fellow man they cant be bothered to acknowledge me? Are they still composing that email or Facebook post in their heads because they cant disconnect?
The Wave is such a simple jester, yet it says so much. It can say Hi, I see you, and recognize you as a fellow cyclist, You look good, or Good for you, you got out here in the rain too and so much more. Harley riders do it; Jeep owners do it, truck drivers do it, why cant we cyclists keep it alive? Some might ask, why does it need saving. I think it does to show we havent completely become robots just riding from point A to point B. Its a sign of recognition, a show or respect to your fellow cyclist. If they take the time to recognize you, respect them and recognize them with a return wave. Hopefully we all shared the same love for riding or bikes. Its that shared love that the Wave recognizes.
The Wave is much like the simple act of saying, You all set? to someone stopped on the side of the road or trail. Three simple words and yet so many cyclist cant udder them to their brethren. Its as their thinking If I slow down my whole training schedule will be thrown off! Why is it so hard for the guy with the full carbon bike and $2000 carbon wheels to offer assistances to the person with a bike that costs as much as their seat? The sad reality is some of those people on the full carbon bike were that other person just a year or two before. Then they got the bug and went pro and that bug crawled up their ass. Almost all of us started out on a junker and as our love for bike grew we upgraded our bikes. Some of us cant or dont feel the need to do so but that doesnt mean we dont share the same love as the guy who has upgraded.
Dont get me wrong, Im as vain as they come when on my bike. I dont leave the house without a matching kit on. Its a running joke. That said I dont think it makes me faster or better than someone else, which is the impression I get from others who blindly ride as if their the only ones on the road. Maybe all those others dont either but make an effort people, it wont kill you. Now youre probably thinking this is just a rant from another agro cyclist. Its not. The point here is something much more important than my dislike of the bike snob. My point being, there are so few of us compared to cars so we need to stick together and this is what this post is really about, sticking together. We all know we get the short end of the stick whether its on the road or in the court house. If we are to change that we need to be unified and solid as a group.
We also need to be unified in how we act on our bikes. Motorists will never just give us respect or the use of the road unless we earn it. I know the law says we shouldnt need to earn it as its equally ours but we do, live with it. I dont see running stops signs or red lights doing anything but working against our cause. Just because others do it doesnt mean its right. Be better than them, so when push comes to shove we can proudly say we obey the rules of the road. As it is now youre looked at as the outsider if you actually stop at lights, stop signs or cross walks. I would love to see it the other way around. Call out those who dont, they are only making it harder for us to gain the respect we all know we deserve. We only have ourselves to blame if we dont.
Looking out for your fellow cyclist and recognizing them is a great way to help bring us together. As our numbers grow the issues we face and amount of incidents with other users of our roads and trails will increase and we will need every voice we have to be heard. Be part of that voice and Wave.
Links to bicycle safety and Laws in WA state.