Why do they do that?

By Peter Lammert | Jul 07, 2012

Why do, what appear to be adult bicyclists, put on a fluorescent top, which is usually some shade of lime glow green and then tuck that into shorts that are almost universally black, and then hoist a backpack on their back that is universally dark if not always all mostly black, and which covers at least 90 percent of the back of their fluorescent shirt then strap on a padded and aerodynamically correct helmet, which is probably only useful at speeds greater than 100 mph and then proceed to hit the road?

When I come upon a bicyclist now, after I recognize that the object up ahead of me is moving in the direction I am going in and is not a potential traffic hazard, I can barely see the fluorescent shirt sticking out from the sides of the backpack like the red on the wings of a red wing blackbird. The dark backpack has almost completely obscured their fluorescent shirt, and the darkness extends downward because of the black shorts. If they wore a helmet that was painted a fluorescent color, that wouldn’t be visible either as they bend over the handlebars to reduce aerodynamic drag. And speaking of helmets, why don’t bicycle helmets have face protection? Seems to me that when someone takes a digger from a bike that their face usually gets a good case of road rash and a helmet with some kind of cage on the front (ice hockey goalie or college hockey player or baseball catcher or like steel mask) that the amount of facial skin left on the roadway would be minimized.

What really catches my eye is the backs of their calves going up and down pedaling the bike. Usually all you see is the color of their skin again descending into dark socks. If some smart Midcoast seamstress would sew up a batch of fluorescent lime or day glow orange half-leggings or I think they were called “spats” that could be worn covering the back of the lower leg from the crease in the back of the knee down to the heel of their shoe, then you would have the protection of both color and movement.

And speaking of color and movement, why do most road construction flaggers stand so that their paddle, regardless of which side is showing, blends in with the machinery behind them? Why don’t they move the paddle from side to side for the first oncoming car after the last group has been allowed to pass. Also, why can’t the stop side of the sign have eight red LEDS on the corners which could be illuminated in a flashing mode for traffic control on days with poor visibility?

Speaking of highways, why does the state paint both the centerline markings and the edge markings at about the same time? I remember one spring when Route 131 from Stubby’s garage in Thomaston to Route 17 in Union, a stretch of almost 12 miles, was paved and the centerline stripe was applied almost immediately. Then something must have happened to that paint crew as the edge stripes were not applied until late in the fall. What I noticed then, as I drove the road that fall, was that the edges, which had the newly applied white stripes, with their top coat of glass spheres which reflect the car’s lights, seemed to leap right out of the darkness that was the edge of the road. Those bright edges remained for several months until the first snow banks replace them. Someone in MDOT should do a study on this subject!

And speaking of studies, did you read the one about Maine having more tractor trailer drivers than other states? That’s a fact. Just watch the car in front of you make a turn. It will slow down ever so slightly and if you can see the driver’s head, it might even be looking in the direction that the vehicle will go. But don’t bet on that. First of all there will be no indication from either rear directional signal of which way the driver may turn. Cars sold in Maine could be made cheaper as they could be built without those pesky signals. Then the driver might ease over toward the middle of the road which might indicate to many drivers that the vehicle might be turning left but don’t bet on that either. Tractor trailer drivers, especially those with twin rear axles on the tractor and pulling a 53-foot-long trailer, have to get over to the middle of the road to make a right-hand turn but they always have their directionals on. There is even a directional signal in the middle of the trailer to indicate a turn if you are foolish enough to attempt a pass on the right. Now back to the vehicle in front of you that is about to go somewhere else.

As the slow turn toward the centerline continues, you can see the right front tire start to ever so slightly turn to the right and then all of a sudden a sharp swing to the right indicates that the vehicle is going to make a right-hand turn regardless of the fact that it was completely on the left side of the lane milliseconds ago and has just crossed almost 20 feet of pavement to do so.

Likewise if they want to turn left and have the self-preservation gene in high gear, they will be stopped somewhere near dead center of the travel lane, with or without a directional signal operating just far enough to the right to prevent non-pickup truck drivers from passing regardless if they have to take in a little ditch to do so. I will have more on this self-preservation gene for another story.

Do they not know that their lane extends to the space in the middle of the two yellow lines if they are present or the middle of a single line if that is all there is for a lane marking? Why do they stop in the middle of the lane and foul up the flow of traffic behind them? Do they not realize that some good ol’ Maineah, in one of those super-deluxe high-rise pickups, can see this roadblock happening and drops it down a gear to pass the three idiots who were traveling like elephants (snout to tail) behind the car that is now stopped and blocking traffic. If one of those three makes a not very carefully thought out move to pull out and try and pass the others in front, there will be a massive application of truck horn and other loud noises which could include the shredding of rubber, sides of cars and the aforementioned directional signals.

Well that’s it for now but please watch out for how you are making turns. Get over to the side you’re going to turn to and use your directional. If you don’t have them, do you remember how to make hand signals? Do you remember the two different hand signals for a right turn?

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Comments (3)
Posted by: Marcia Peters | Jul 12, 2012 05:34

Diana is right, Pete....it would be great to hear more about trees and about the demise of Thomaston's giant elms.  Your columns are are always interesting and combined with humor....always something to think about!! Keep it coming.

Posted by: PRUDENCE & PHILLIP NETZORG | Jul 11, 2012 14:57

Aw, Pete, there are some drivers who use their turn signal -- when they are halfway into their turn!


Posted by: Diana Beach | Jul 08, 2012 09:21

Hi Pete, I just love reading your columns and have come to greatly appreciate all the good work you do on our behalf here in Thomaston.  I would love to hear more about the trees, and the demise of the elms, as well as your boundary marker stories--I am sure there are quite a few.

Thanks, Diana Beach

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