The Power of Flowers


As some of you may be aware, I was in a car vs cyclist incident last year.

I am now back riding (kind of), though with a slight difference, and I don’t mean the fact I can’t ride more than 5km at a time or handle hills yet. I am talking about putting flowers on my bike. And not just anywhere on my bike, on a wicker basket no less.

Once the flowers went on, the strangest thing happened. I went from being a seen as a “cyclist must get ahead of/push in front of/not give way to” to “awww how cute, a cyclist, I better slow right down/give way/leave a good metre/wave across a crossing.”

All hail the powers of the flowers.Tweede 1

Now I am riding the exact same bike as was destroyed in last year’s incident. I am wearing pretty much the same clothes as I rode in as well – the only thing that is not constant are the accoutrements on my bike. For the record, I should state that my bike is a “granny style” or Dutch sit up bike, so no one could ever confuse me for a Lycra Legend on the great white beast that she is. I had panniers on my last bike too, but not matching. My new ones are matching, but surely having matching panniers isn’t what grants me so much courtesy while riding. It has to be the basket with flowers.
I used to get more than my fair share of complements on my bike that was called “Lady.” Like her Game of Thrones namesake however, she didn’t end so well. With Tweede, my new bike, I get complements all the time. People take photos of my bike while it’s parked at cafes or in parks. It is definitely noticeable, and I think that is what is the difference.
Flowers and a basket says “oh I am just out for a ride, I don’t take this whole cycling thing seriously,” and that seems to resonate with motorists. Now of course, I have no hard stats to back this up, it is all anecdotal. I am also not riding my old route to and from work – that is still far beyond my capabilities, but even just cruising around the inner city, it feels different.
Tweede 3I was never a risk taking rider. In fact I was boringly law abiding when I compare my riding style to other riders I saw and still see. Red lights equalled stop. Stop signs equalled stop. I always wore a helmet. I didn’t weave in and out of traffic. Heck, I even did hook turns so not to slow down turning traffic. Yet all this still saw cars not give way, cut me off, yell abuse etc.
Add flowers, and I’ve only had one cut off in almost 2 months of riding. Granted I am mainly on bike paths, but in bike lanes (approximately 30% of my riding) you can still frequently be cut off. Now though… not so much. I’ve been overtaken once with a cut off (scared the bejeebus out of me) but a second time at the same intersection, a car sped up to overtake me, saw me (and the flowers) and then dropped back. While riding around New Farm and Teneriffe, cars are now much more likely to stop to let me cross (you’d be surprised how many cars blow through zebra crossings while you are pushing your bike across it). These days though, more often than not, it is a stop with a smile and wave.

 

Now having a noticeable bike that grants you nice manners from motorists is pointless though if they don’t look. All the hi-vis in the world can’t make someone see you. Putting more flowers on my bike won’t magically make me appear to drivers who don’t check for bicycles or just drive on “auto pilot” – and that is the real challenge. Not just for me, but for everyone. Drivers, passengers, cyclists, motorbike riders, pedestrians, everyone.
Flowers are great, but an educated public is better.

Tweede 2

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2 Responses to “The Power of Flowers”

  1. Princeyprince Says:

    Noticing more and more drivers paying attention to their mobile phones, texting while driving, reading books while driving, eating breakfast while driving, shaving while driving, sitting at green lights totally distracted not noticing the light has changed. Makes me very nervous about getting out there on my bike… Just recently a driver was found not guilty in Qld of careless use of a motor vehicle causing the death of a cyclist… Still it is interesting that the addition of flowers to your bike has had an effect…

  2. howmanypandas Says:

    I am still getting around by taxis for the most part, unless it is a short flat ride, and the things I see as a passenger is scary. Like you say, eating, talking to kids behind them, iPads, the paper etc… It only takes a moment of inattention and a fatality/life changing event can happen.
    Too many commuters just get stuck in the ‘grind’ of their commute and forget they are in charge of a deadly weapon.
    As to the flowers, I know a health professional, and when she wears her uniform from the hospital, she is also the recipient of gentle and generous behaviour my motorists. It shows we all can do it, we just have to want to – and be paying attention.

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