Just a little perk of biking…

DSC00791The local police set up a roadside speedometer a few houses down from where I live. It shows the speed of passing cars and flashes if that speed is over 30 mph. Since I bike past the sign every day and walk my dogs down the street, I have been able to observe the reactions of motorists to the speedometer.

As the cars come around the corner and see their current speed displayed, the most common reaction is gentle pressure on the brakes until the car is moving at or under the speed limit. Of course, there are some drivers who either don’t see the sign or are feeling brazen; they continue to speed down the road unflinchingly. My personal favorite are the drivers who see their speed and instantly stomp on the brakes until they are going way below the legal speed. It is my firm belief that these individuals think that a police officer is hiding in the shrubbery, waiting to pop out and hand them a ticket.

But all these motorists, regardless of their behavior when they notice the speedometer, have one thing in common. They are all speeding to various degrees before they come to the sign. Clearly, many of them aren’t speeding on purpose, their reaction to the speedometer is proof of that. It is just that speeding in a car is so easy. I have (occasionally) driven a car in the past and it shocked me every time how simple it was to go over the speed limit without even realizing it. Cars want to go fast, they are made to go fast, but in many situations they should not go fast.

I was thinking about it on the way home from work today. Just for fun, I decided to add three sprints to my route. For a few minutes each time, I pounded on those pedals as hard and as fast as ever I could. Going at my top speed down the road-it feels great. And that is the freedom of traveling everywhere by bike. My speed is not determined by road signs, laws or police officers. In most cases my fastest speed is legal and safe. I set my own pace, whether it be slower than a jogger running up a hill or faster than an Amish racehorse.

Some people think I am a little odd for choosing a mode of transportation that is slower and less convenient for getting around. It is true, they can zip around the countryside at speeds I could never dream of reaching.

But biking does have lots of great perks and one, little, maybe rather trivial perk, is that I have the freedom to choose my own speed. I can race down the road as fast as I can just for fun and it is exhilarating. It doesn’t get me killed or fined.  Although…in the event that I ever was caught speeding down a hill, well, I would probably brag about the resulting ticket until the day I died.

Oh, I should probably tell you my own reaction while biking past the speedometer. Well, I think it might not be calibrated correctly for bicycles because yesterday it said I was going ninety. I didn’t slow down.

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21 thoughts on “Just a little perk of biking…

  1. When driving you get very little sensory feedback so it’s easy to go too fast. On a bike, the wind is in your face and your ears, you feel the bumps in the road.
    One other thought: the speedometer on my car goes from 0 to 160 mph. My 4 cylinder Accord can only hit 160 by driving it off a cliff! The psychology says “Go fast!”

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    • And that is why biking is so awesome! We aren’t locked up in a little speeding bubble 🙂

      I have always wondered why speedometers go up to such a high range. Was there ever a reason? I can’t think of a good one!

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  2. When I first saw your post I had assumed that you had either been pulled over by the police or you actually got a ticket racing another horse and buggy. Actually I did get pulled over by our local police dept for doing 20 in a 15 mph zone. It was on a road that connects one subdivision to another. The officer that pulled me over did it as a joke because I knew him and he told me the next time he saw me he was going to pull me over for speeding. No warning or ticket this time but he did tell me to be careful and make sure to stop at all stop signs. Same goes for you. Please be carefull out there and watch out for those race horses.

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    • Sadly, I think horse and buggy racing was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Every other time when I have passed them, they simply keep at a steady pace. That is probably a good thing. 😉

      Thank you for your words of caution, I will do my best to be careful. Thankfully, many of the roads I bike on have beautiful, wide, unobstructed shoulders and biking down them is as safe as can be 😀

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  3. I’ve been trying for a few years to get pulled over… Last year was my closest attempt but the police officer left before I got back with my bike. Still, 56.8 mph in a 45… I was pretty stoked (going down a hill of course). Keep trying! I’ll frame the ticket if I ever get one.

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  4. On our attempt at cross country cycling last year one of our daily discussions was how we were ‘sticking it to the man’ then we’d laugh that crazy laugh that only rebels know. By camping on the road side or using no gas or being able to eat anything and everything all the time knowing we’d bike it out next day, we were going against ‘the system and sticking it to the man’…the corporate or government establishment that tries to contain us with rules, regulations and stupid speed limits. Maybe a better electronic sign might say, “Are you paying attention? Be safe.” So there’s my little soap box comment. Just joking around here actually. By the way, I typed this comment at 31 MPH

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    • First of all, please slow down! This is a 30mph typing zone!

      I can identify with that feeling. Every time someone mentions that they have to get their car inspected or how expensive gas is or how their car is breaking down and they have to spend $$$ to fix it, I hug my bike a little tighter the next time I see her. Sometime I giggle a bit to myself, feeling like a have uncovered a “life hack” and no one around me even realizes it. (Even though I tell them all the time how nice it is to be free from all that car stuff.)

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  5. Nice post. I have never thought of it this way. We go as fast or slow as we like. Even when we are speeding it is usually slower than the posted speed limit. And, when we slow down, no one behind is honking for us to speed up or move over. I do exceed speed limits on descents sometimes but as yet have never been stopped 🙂

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  6. I think those speedometer signs can get easily confused by bicycles, because of the moving parts and limbs, but the few that I have cycled through have worked.

    Surely all of us cyclists have “Get a speeding ticket” on our bucket list? The only downside here is that if I get a ticket, in addition to the fine, I would get points on my driver’s licence, which would affect the cost of my car insurance…. perhaps another reason to ditch the car for good 😉

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