Every winter, people call me crazy for riding to work. Every winter, I tell them it’s easier than it looks. I try to dispel the myth that winter cyclists are nuts.
But the reputation may have certain benefits. Recently, as temperatures and our allotment of daylight both fell, I’ve sensed a change in my gasoline-addicted commuting brethren.
I’ve always found most Anchorage motorists to be fairly considerate of bicyclists, but they’re never more generous than on frigid, dark mornings in the depths of winter. About two weeks ago, I started noticing more drivers yielding the right of way. Those behind me will often slow down and wait for me to ride away before they make right turns. As I cross the roads feeding into a large roundabout near my house, drivers are stopping to let me cross in front of them while the motorists behind them wait.
Maybe it’s out of pity because they think I can’t afford a car. Maybe it’s out of fear that I might slip on ice and go under their wheels. Hell, in some cases it could even be a little bit of respect because they see someone refuses to be stopped by a little cold weather.
Bike commuters don’t get many perks in this motorized world. So when a new one comes along—however temporary it may be—it doesn’t really matter whether it comes from pity, fear, or respect. I’ll just enjoy it while it lasts.