Commuter 'White Knuckle Moments'

Three weeks into life as a bike commuter, Steve Benning has encountered some of the challenges that even the most committed among us face from time to time.

Steve Benning with the BusUnpleasant weather is one of the triggers for excuses to use the car. We had that kind of weather last week in the form of 40 to 50 miles-per-hour headwinds. Steve showed commitment to staying out of his car, and took the bike on the bus. In the video, you’ll see that he makes it look easy to lift a 60-pound bike onto the bus’ front rack.

But more than once Steve has mentioned “white-knuckle moments” in his commute, including on the day we shot this interview.

Steve: It was people making right-hand turns right in front of me. They would kind of blow through the stoplight, and creep in the intersection, and block… I’m sure you know the type.

Me: Yes. And it’s interesting because, y’know, you described those as “white-knuckle moments,” but I think that the more experienced bike commuters and cyclists, they may have those same things everyday too. But they fade in significance… or you see them coming. You learn to see them coming and avoid them.

Steve helps me to understand the perspective of someone who hasn’t yet learned many of the things about cycling that are second nature to me–so second nature that I may forget that these things must be learned.

Was I too dismissive to chalk up incidents like this as a learning-curve thing; something to which we adapt until we cease to be unnerved by day-to-day encounters low-level bad driving? If so, do we do a disservice to new and potential bike commuters by cheerleading about all the fun they should expect to have on their first bike ride to the workplace?

And furthermore, was I too dismissive of bands that fall outside of my past and present tastes in music?


Apologies to Unwritten Law for my having never heard of you. I’m sure you don’t sound like yet-another derivative post-grunge pop band.

Apologies also to Styx for any perceived ridicule in my laughter. You’re not has-beens whatsoever. See you at the casino.

Update: See Steve after four weeks of Bike Commuting >>

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7 thoughts on “Commuter 'White Knuckle Moments'”

  1. BluesCat says:

    Speaking of “unwritten law,” Ted, it might help if you just let Steve in on the most important “unwritten law” which pertains to us folks who go on two wheels, whether they be bicycles, e-bikes or even motorcycles:

    Because you have fewer wheels than a motorists, you are TOTALLY INVISIBLE to them.”

    Keeping that rule/law in mind, you’ll have appreciably fewer white knuckle moments.

  2. Paul says:

    EVERYTHING is invisible when so called “drivers” rarely even LOOK out the windshield!!! Texting and uploading to facebook is more important to these poor excuses of humans than any/all other users of the roads!

  3. John says:

    You are so lucky to have those bike racks on your buses, here in the UK we have nothing like that, but we do have Health and Safety law which would write one hundred different laws before breakfast as to why it would be far too dangerous for us!

  4. LARRY JOE says:


  5. Matt says:

    That was a fun interview. Way to go Steve! Keep it up.

  6. xiousgeonz says:

    You haven’t talked about the things you might have learned — the specifics of “how to avoid them” (like lane position, that especially counterintuitive aspect of riding)… did you talk about that with your friend?

  7. another matt says:

    yeah that stuff definitely happens but every car I encounter I just assume that they will automatically choose the worst case scenario for me and my bike but I wouldn’t say that its in the background more like I’ve become proficient in dealing with these things.

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