Thursday, August 11, 2016
Signals and Shifting
A few weeks ago as I was approaching a four-way intersection, I noticed the driver in front of me using hand signals to indicate his intentions. It has been YEARS since I've seen anyone use the gestures. In the 1950s and even the early 60s many cars did not have signal lights, so I saw them frequently. Drivers even rolled down the window in the winter to signal.
The signals are encouraged for cyclists, but honestly, I've never seen a cyclist use the signals in my area.
After I moved through the intersection that day, I began to ponder other driving changes. I learned how to drive on the farm when I was in Junior High. When my brother fed the cows in the pasture, he would put the pickup in first gear (granny) and then jump in the bed to throw the bales off for the cows. Eventually, he expected me to put the pickup or truck in gear and drive through the field. He cursed a few (many) times, when I nearly threw him off of the truck bed, and out of frustration, I learned the mechanics of maneuvering the clutch and the gear shift.
Manual transmissions are still common in my area: my first car had a manual transmission, and the pickup I purchased several years later did, too. The gear shifts in both vehicles were on the floor.
I remember at least one of the cars (tanks) my family had in my early years, had a column shift, but I'd never driven one until I was teaching in Wheatland, WY in the 1970s. In those days, the advisor drove the van or buses on trips, and on one trip I drove a van with a column shift. Because I'd driven with a floor gear shift, I didn't have any problem adapting.
Some questions to ponder:
• Can you drive a vehicle with a manual transmission?
• Have you used a column shift?
• Do individuals in your area use hand signals when driving or biking?