Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Things I Like About Wisconsin

I started this blog in March, and looking back I realize that I've spent a lot of time griping about the weather.

Here's the thing:  by February or March, after months spent under snow and ice, we're all terribly desperate for some sunny warmth.  And when we have a cold dark rainy windy spring, as we did this year, we get even MORE desperate.  And depressed.  And so we complain about the weather.  And complain some more.  It doesn't change anything, but at least we know we're in it together.  It's a kind of fellowship of despair.

But Wisconsin is really a pretty nice place to live.  There's beauty all around, and a sense of spaciousness that I never experienced in crowded Southern California, where I grew up.

And people here don't like to toot their own horns.  Modesty and diffidence must lurk in the Midwestern gene pool  - or maybe it's in the water supply.  So I thought it might be fun to start a series of posts on Things I Like About Wisconsin.  Maybe this will atone for all the weather complaints.

Here's the first topic:

Courtesy to Cyclists

People are really polite here in the Midwest, and this courtesy extends to cyclists.  Cars swing wide when they go by a cyclist - so wide, they often go into the opposite lane.  (At least they do in my village, and on our rural roads.)  If there's traffic in the opposite lane, passing vehicles will hang back until the traffic is gone.

This is in stark contrast to the more congested areas of the Golden State, where brushing by a cyclist as closely as possible was the unpleasant norm.  (To ride the Pacific Coast Highway between Seal Beach and Huntington was to take one's life in one's hands.)  It used to seem as though cars were competing for points to see which could get closest without actually knocking the cyclist over.  Maybe the SoCal cycling situation is better now in that regard - I hope so.

Wisconsin motorists tend to be friendly, especially out in the country.  They usually wave, or nod, or smile, or do the 2-fingers-lifted-from-the-steering-wheel (a modified wave). Buggy-drivers are friendly, too.  The Amish always wave.

So thanks, Wisconsin, for your excellent attitude to cycling and cyclists.

P.S.  After I wrote this, Mr. M told me that Wisconsin law requires passing motorists to give bicyclists 3 feet of clearance.  We've lived here almost 20 years and this is the first I've heard of it!  But my opinion stands.  Laws are a reflection of the people who enact them.  Thanks, Wisconsin, for your excellent law regarding cyclists.  And thanks to the many people of Wisconsin who obey that law with cheerfulness and grace.

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  1. It's so encouraging and refreshing to hear how cyclists are treated in your state. Thank you for that! I think Colorado can have California tendencies when it comes to sharing the road, but we just had the 3-foot law pass, too, last year. Some motorists were always doing this, with or without the law, and there are those who will never abide by it. I tend to complain too much about Colorado's wind but probably should be doing as you and thanking drivers (AND cyclsits) who do show respect and courtesy. This is SUCH a great place to ride, and I'm very thankful to live here.

  2. (AND cyclists) (fingers went faster than brain)


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