Peeved: White Necks – the Urban Idiots

image White Necks are the most dangerous people in the world. Everyone who has tried cycling knows the dangers of red necks on the road with their jacked up pickup trucks and tires that tower over you head. They try their best to scare the poop out of you when they come by on the highway, and will honk and yell things (i.e. “get off the road”, “nice ass”, or “WOOOOWEEEE”) out their open window. Luckily, those giant tires warn us from 5 kilometers away that they’re coming, and the drivers are actually paying such close attention to us that, while obnoxious, they’re far safer in their actions than the citified, wannabe civilized, overstressed, under-slept, all-organic idiots you find in any urban area of America. I’m referring to what I call “White Necks”. It includes the lawyers, doctors, soccer mom’s, and all types of business people who seem to think that their hurry gives them rights over the highway, and permission to risk the lives of everyone around them so they can get to their next appointment. The White Necks pose a significant threat to my life, and are the reason I feel very uneasy riding through places like Bellevue, Washington and  Miami, Florida.

These rolling threats to my life truly seem to believe that the road belongs to them. To the white neck “Share the Road” signs are in place to warn cyclists to stay away from Range Rovers.  They worry that their kid will be the last one waiting at the baseball field if they don’t break a few laws to go faster, or that the 10 seconds it might take to slow down and pass safely will cascade into a day so bad that, by calculated risk, my life is a fair gamble.

As a cyclist, the threat of the white neck is far greater than their rural counterparts. Sure, if they notice you they may honk as they go by, or give a dirty look, but most of the time these overbooked suburbanites don’t even know you’re there. Plus, you can’t hear a BMW until it’s close enough to kill you, and the text-messaging trophy wife may never even know she hit you. She’ll arrive home and think the scratch on her passenger door is from that suspicious Honda Civic with a bike rack on top that parked next to her at Whole Foods.

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In an effort to guide my posts into a more rhythmic pattern of literary excellence, I’ve decided to commit myself to writing a weekly post within each of certain themes. I’m shooting for three weekly columns (so I still have room for my random thoughts in case something particularly random and thoughtful occurs). My first category: Pet Peeves. I have plenty of them, and it opens the door to a satirical look at my surrounding and things I find particularly annoying.

Published by Ben

Ben Collins Professional Triathlete

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8 Comments

  1. I’m so excited for my new commute by bike from Seattle to my sweet new office in Bellevue. My first 2 years here in CA were only marked with 2 minor incidents with a cab driver drifting over into the bike lane and a lost tourist. In the past 2 months I’ve had at least 1 motorist yell, threaten or drive so close that my jersey was brushed by a side mirror each week (1 episode a week) – and we have bike lanes nearly everywhere on major roads. I don’t get it.

  2. I had to watch that several times. I’m not quite sure how the rear door of the truck was able to pick up the entire car and swing it like a rag doll. The one cyclist you can still see after the wreck is obviously in shock… wow. Thanks Chris.

  3. I’m quite sympathetic to your viewpoint, and I understand that your tongue is somewhat if not firmly in cheek with this essay. That said, is it impossible these days to treat people as individuals rather than as an evil tribe? To your mind, it wasn’t Driver Jane or Driver Jim who nearly killed you; it was the soccer mom taking her kid to the baseball field (or maybe the baseball dad taking his kid to the soccer field), or the doctor or lawyer (but certainly not the baker) heading home with a Range Rover full of organic food. This sort of imagining of the details of the lives of the antagonists one encounters is novelistic and fun — but it’s become so rampant, sloppy and commonplace in discussion real issue today that it only serves to divide further, and in the end hurts the cause of living peacefully together. You see, the inevitable result of your crude caricature of drivers is to give rise to an equally crude caricature of cyclists — and that’s no small part of what’s behind the kind of reaction Loren points to in his comment. You’re helping to turn trying to ride a bike safely into an Us Against Them game, which only heightens tensions and the possibility of conflict. I’d encourage you to think about whether the way you view the situation is helping us toward safer riding or taking us further away from that goal.

  4. Pete, you’re absolutely right, and I agree that my character creation does perpetuate a hatred between Driver Jack (ass) and Cyclist Hope that has already gotten out of hand. It’s just that imagination goes wild when Driver Dick delivers an extended honk. And when Driver Faith goes flies by sending text messages in her Mercedes with a “My Kid’s an Honor Student” bumper sticker – it’s just too easy.

  5. How do you know all of these people’s names? Of course it’s us against them. Everything in life is that isn’t it? You compete for a job, at school, for the most awesomest girl, to look good when you go out the door (maybe not), to have a safe place to live, to get a good deal, your company competes, etc.. it’s all a competition. Unless you’re a specator to life.

    BTW – you should stop stereotyping car makers. I’ve been harassed by more trucks than anything else (I should say drivers and passengers in trucks). The guy in a Buick jumped me while the guy in the Mercedes only threatened me. More recently as I wrote, the guy in the Prius called me a [email protected] cyclist (which was offensive because I’m more well rounded than a single sport athlete) and reved his battery at me as he tried to run me over after having fully executed a lawful stop.

    Gosh.

  6. “when Driver Faith goes flies by sending text messages in her Mercedes with a ‘My Kid’s an Honor Student’ bumper sticker – it’s just too easy.”

    LOL… I hear you, Ben…. (And re-reading my earlier comment, it’s a little more obnoxiously pious than I wanted it to be. Thanks for having an open mind about it.)

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