Night Driving – Bicycle Vs. Car

You'd have to be crazy. And a lot of people are.

I feel like I’m letting you all down when I say this. Sometimes I use a car. It’s true. But only when I ab-so-lutely have to. When there’s an object bigger than a backpack and it needs shifting, I’ll resort to using Dad’s Corolla – which is parked miles away. In the family garage . . . away from temptation.

Last week’s night ride through the ‘burbs was a heavenly jaunt compared to tonight’s stress-filled 15 minute death ride. I had to drop off some fertiliser and garden lights at my new place. No worries. Corolla! I hopped in, buckled up and, maybe because I don’t drive much, I hit the metal. My blood instantly turned jet-black. I jerked down the driveway, hooked the corner tightly and slid onto Canning Highway between two anxious drivers (who I’m sure were speeding up on purpose).

It was 6.30pm. The absolute worst time to drive anywhere.

Heading north down Canning Highway at peak hour is crazy. Bumper to bumper. 60kmh feeling like the speed of sound. One person. One car. One goal.

Minimise the time I spend working for the man. Maximise me / family time.

I experience opposite emotions when cycling.

Driving is always culture shock for me. I could have delivered my miniature load in two bike trips, but I chose to do this little drive. Just an 8km jaunt – up the highway. Within about 5 seconds, I had some 4WD Dickwad pretty much hooked to my bumper. In my rear-vision mirror he was 19 – going on dead. His headlights burned so I flicked the mirror to night-view. Slow. Using my middle finger. Heh heh. I eased back a little on the pedal – to a smooth 58kmh stroll – just enough to be annoying (after all, speedometers do have a 5 kmh +/- margin of error, so as far as Dicky was concerned, I may have even been going over the limit by 3kph or so). Furious, Dicky tried to take over in the left lane . . . but I was all over that. Pal! I matched the speed of a nice big bus right next to me. I even waved to a kid seated by the window. I’m sure Dicky could see me waving. We drove, me and that lovely big bus, as one. Down the two lane highway. The Corolla became a sidecar to Mr Bus. We were best friends. And Dicky was jealous. Perhaps he just needed to learn a special lesson. One about patience. And driving within the law’s legal boundaries. Laws exist to protect us all, Dicky. You need to learn that. Luckily I’m here to teach you.

Suffice it to say – I was getting my own back on all those times drunken and just-plain-stupid Dickwads who lean out of car windows, screaming and shouting – trying to knock and shock me off my bicycle. All those proud fellows who’d tooted their horns, yelled abuse, driven too close. Trying to teach me a lesson (ie. cyclists have no rights on my road) . . . Well. The journey was start / stop / start / stop allll the way and I relished every rear brake light before me. More pain for Dicky’s sad journey home. Time spent NOT with his girlfriend. Or NOT with his kids. His Mother maybe. Every moment felt like chocolate and was the dark angel keeping his journey legal.

Eventually I let Dicky pass. But I made it very very clear to him. I let him pass. With a friendly toot and wave. Just to seal the deal.

I checked my watch and turned into my Como cul-de-sac. Sadly, I’d completed the journey from Attadale to Como in just 15 minutes. 7 minutes faster than the same trip on my bicycle. That annoyed me. I remember racing Dad to town and beating him. In this very car. Me on my Giant CRX-1. Dad in the Corolla. I always beat him because on a bike there’s;

  • no stopping on bike paths

  • you can park anywhere

  • no need to find loose change

  • no parking meter issues

  • no fines

Dad’s life is over now. I will always remember the dream I had only a week after he died . . .

I was driving down Mill Point road – near where I live now (in Dad’s Corolla) listening to loud music, thinking about all the jobs I had to do. All the work and all the bills I needed to pay. All the time I didn’t have. In my rear vision mirror – a 65 year old man riding a motorcycle. I was struck by the fact that he wasn’t wearing a helmet. He was approaching fast. I thought he was going to overtake me, but instead, the motorbike pulled up alongside. It was Dad, hair blowing God-like in the wind. I was so happy to see him. I missed him. But before I could wind down my window to say hello, he looked seriously into my eyes and mouthed these words . . .

“SLOW . . . DOWN!”

Then he sped ahead of me – up the road.

Maybe he was trying to teach me something? Was it . . . Bicycles might be slower than cars, but they’re a lot less stressful to drive!

About Heinrich

Promoting everyday cycling