Last week, I had an errand to run, so I reserved some time on Zip Car. I pulled out of the parking space, drove around the block, and there, right in front of me, was a cyclist climbing up a long, steep hill.
My first reaction was a gut feeling that he was going to slow me down on my errand.
Maybe I could pass.
But then I thought about it. How much was he really going to slow me down? By a few seconds? A minute, tops? Maybe I could pass him, but why make him feel pressured? It’s a long, tough climb. I know, I’ve done it, and it’s not easy. He was as far to the right as he could get, doing his best to get up the hill without impeding drivers trying to get up the hill.
I changed my mind. I decided I could wait. Instead of passing him, I held back. I gave him some space on the road, and some time to climb to the next light. Other cars behind me might have passed him, but they couldn’t pass me. So we all held back, giving the guy some space on the road.
And you know what? Nobody honked at me. Nobody tailgated me, or revved their engines, or buzzed me, or yelled “get off the road!” The other drivers just waited patiently, just like me, as we all climbed the hill together.
He got to the light, and I pulled up behind him and stopped, still taking the entire lane with my car. When the light changed, he pulled ahead, and I waited until he was clear of my car before turning right. At least he had a head start on a steep climb.
I’ve always given a safe distance when passing cyclists, but I’ve never deliberately used my car to help another cyclist negotiate a difficult stretch of road. Until last week.