“Be safe” floated in the air somewhere behind me.

Sometimes people mean well, sometimes they’re being assholes when they say things like that. Not knowing which it was in this case, and not really interested in finding out, I just drank my water.

“Bike safe” came more distinctly. I turned my head to the lane of cars in the right-turn-only lane to my right to see a 30-something man in a small car with a bike on the back. I still wasn’t sure how it was meant, so I replied “Drive safe.”

He was a bit taken aback, and then made what I can only describe as a rueful grimace. He did have a bike on the back, so maybe all the unsaid things for which my “drive safe” was shorthand for was clear to him.

The long version would have explained that mile-per-mile, biking is safer than driving, and that since the biggest danger to bicyclists who have not been drinking alcohol is unsafe drivers, the best way for me to “bike safe” is actually for the car drivers to “drive safe”.

But who wants to say all that while sitting at a light? He might have gotten it with my shorthand, however.

“Doesn’t Franconia freak you out?” he asked, referring to the road we were on. It has never freaked me out, even when it has frustrated me and beaten me down. Now that I cut through the neighborhoods and avoid the worst and rudest parts of it, which I decided to do in the mornings as well as the afternoons because it is just so peaceful I can’t resist, I’m only on Franconia a short time, and all of it is easy riding.

But it was again the shorthand reply I used, a hand wave and “I’m only on it a short time.”

The line of cars for the right turn was creeping forward, so his shorthand response of “Beulah” was ghostly as he passed out of conversation range.

Beulah indeed.