Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Vehicular profiling

I admit to a prejudice. I'm prejudiced against black pickup trucks. Particularly the big ones. The bigger, blacker, and shinier your pickup truck is, the more likely I am to expect fear, surprise, and bad citizenship. I've had black pickups pass me on the right when I was in left turn lanes, then cut me off in the middle of the intersection. I've had them blaze past me at high speed without their outside tires so much as brushing the centre line. I've had them charge me as I was walking my bike through pedestrian crosswalks.

And this morning on my way down Bank Street I was sharing a block with three black pickups. One of them with a Harley-Davidson decal on the back windshield. So yeah, I engaged in a little profiling, when one of them crowded me close to the door zone. I even started writing a vague, grumpy blog post in my head about black pickups.

And then I realized that the one behind me - a different black pickup - was staying back to give me room to come into the lane and get out of the door zone on the hill past Hopewell Ave. School. And then as we made our way up to the Lansdowne Bridge (which is currently my least favorite part of the city because of construction) I realized that the truck wasn't passing. It was hanging back, by a couple of car lengths, because there were parked cars and I would have to swing out around them. Normally I have to race cars into the single lane of the construction zone over the bridge, but this driver let me go ahead, and even though there is room for cars to pass, he didn't. I noticed a worker at the top of the bridge with a 'stop' sign, and pulled up to where she was and stopped. As I put a foot on the curb, I looked back. The truck was still keeping a more than safe distance. When the worker turned her sign back to "slow" and stepped back, I presumed the truck would pass me on the downslope of the bridge, but instead, I found myself in a wide open lane, encouraged to take it, and completely unworried about space as I moved into the narrower construction lane past Lansdowne Park, the one where I usually have to summon a little pigheadedness in order to take up my lane.

The truck was still unthreateningly far behind me, and apparently the driver was unconcerned. Touched, I tried to move quickly through the constricted lane, so I could get out of his way faster, wanting to be as courteous to him as he was being to me, and once we were into the Glebe on the other side of the bridge I moved over as much as I could to let him pass, where there were spaces with no parked cars. But he didn't: eventually he put on a left turn signal and turned off the street behind me.

So, AE 37092: Thanks for being a mensch. And sorry for vehicular profiling you.


  1. Perhaps some of the fear of black pickups is that of road position? When you stop at signaled intersection and put your foot on curb. You could assume the vehicle behind thinks you might be checking your texts, because you have vacated the lane. When on street with erratic parked cars, stay in same position all the way, instead of "popping" out from behind parked cars. Good link here, http://www.bikexprt.com/streetsmarts/usa/index.htm I like chapter 2,

  2. Good point in general, but the area she's talking about has no parked cars for a considerable distance before and after.

    The nearest time I've ever come to being hit was from a man driving a black pickup truck, who completely blew through a stop sign from a quiet side street onto a busy suburban arterial without stopping (or even slowing down) at the stop sign or looking for oncoming traffic (me and others). Luckily, I was able to very quickly get out of the way.