Other People’s Lives

Screw ‘em!

I mean, really … other people? They’re just objects in the road. Something to get around. And if they piss you off, then scare them or put them in danger.

Here’s what a road bully pulled on me this morning. He didn’t realize, however, that wasn’t scared of him.

(Click for larger image)

That’s the intersection of National and Grand. I pass through this intersection everyday following the route indicated by the red line. While it might look scary, this intersection is easily traversed even by novices. All it takes is a basic understanding of how traffic works and the bicyclist’s role in it.

Since I head west through the ¬†intersection, I position myself to command the right-hand through lane. There’s a long sight-line to my rear, so car drivers may easily decide if they want to pull in behind a bicyclist or not. If not, they simply take the left-hand through lane. This reasonable, adult behavior works like a charm the vast majority of the time.

Then you have the bullies — their numbers are quite low, but their behavior can be disconcerting.

So this guy pulls in behind me at the light instead of taking the left lane. His behavior tells me that he’s comfortable with the fact that I won’t be traveling the speed limit through this intersection.

There were five cars to my left, and all of them passed me easily as we passed through the intersection (red line). The guy behind me stayed behind me until we reached the turn-out. Then he gunned the engine and passed me on the right using the turn-out despite the left lane being entirely clear (yellow line).

What an asshole.

Now, I have enough experience on the road that I was merely angered by his behavior, i.e. taking a chance with other people’s lives. But such a stunt is exactly the kind of thing that could frighten a novice off the road for good. And that really makes me angry.

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Comments 10

  1. Keri wrote:

    I think that’s a version of the “look what you made me do!” psychosis. Bullies manifest that in other aspects of life as well. He did something ridiculous, dangerous and illegal so he could scare you and be a victim of you at the same time, because you made him do it by being in his way.

    Posted 06 Sep 2011 at 10:49 am
  2. Andy Cline wrote:

    Keri… I hope he looked in his mirror and saw me laughing at him. The slow burn occurred during the balance of my ride.

    Posted 06 Sep 2011 at 11:58 am
  3. Khal Spencer wrote:

    That behavior would have freaked out a lot of cyclists, some of whom call me to say they are putting the bike away in favor of the Armored Urban Assault Vehicle. Frankly, cyclists need to toughen up a bit. The best way to deal with bullies is to kick them in the ass.

    Posted 06 Sep 2011 at 12:06 pm
  4. Mighk Wilson wrote:

    Or as someone else suggested, tell them, “It’ll be okay!…”

    Because most bullies are already getting their asses kicked by somebody else, so it’s more appropriate to pity them.

    Posted 06 Sep 2011 at 1:42 pm
  5. Robert wrote:

    So we (as the 1% of so willing to put up with it) say that people should deal with it, toughen up, etc.

    Truth is, we know most people wouldn’t. The average white, middle-class person is not used to being harassed, threatened, etc. Some of us handle it, but most people cannot and will not. Not when they have a $30,000 car sitting in their driveway.

    My wife, a smart and motivated woman whose name starts with “Doctor”, came home crying the first several times that this happened to her. She would have never continued riding if we weren’t dating/married. Call her a candyass if you like, then look around and notice how many other bicyclists you see taking the lane on the way home.

    This is exactly why most people enjoy bike lanes. Yes, it’s not as much space as Keri enjoys when she’s taking the lane but people feel as though it’s THIER space and that people will likely not sit on their ass, revving the motor, honking and screaming at them. There are people, who even after understanding things like the door zone, would rather risk being smacked by a door and injured than slow down other road users.

    (note: that is not my belief or how or what I teach)

    The status quo of no facilities and will work so long as the other 99% of Americans learn to love being threatened and harassed or take a bicycle education course. Which will happen first?

    If anyone has any evidence of large sums of people taking bicycle education courses, I’d love to hear the good news.

    P.S. I know you’re not interested in getting people to ride bicycles just for the sake of riding bicycles. However, you have to realize that what you and I laugh off, scares the shit out of most people.

    P.S.S I also know that bicycle lanes can CAUSE harassment when a cyclist disregards it because it’s unfit to ride, etc. Totally taking that into consideration.

    Posted 06 Sep 2011 at 3:00 pm
  6. Michael wrote:

    That one might have freaked me out a bit, depends on how close the car was too me and how fast they were going.

    I like to smile and wave a folk doing things like that.

    Posted 06 Sep 2011 at 3:09 pm
  7. Khal Spencer wrote:

    Nothing Andy said made clear how his welfare was being endangered. Just a yahoo passing on the right and making a lot of noise. If that is enough to scare your average cyclist off, that is not much to say for the public.

    p.s. This isn’t an indictment of all separated facilities or all bicyclists who wince when they really are in a bad spot. Just an indictment of how easy it is to scare the average American. Land of the free and home of the brave, or land of the huddled masses waiting for their new SUV?

    Posted 06 Sep 2011 at 3:58 pm
  8. Michael wrote:

    Count me in as one of bicycling masses yearning to breath air free of car exhaust and not wanting to become the the wretched refuse of a SUV V. bicycle collision.

    Posted 06 Sep 2011 at 4:58 pm
  9. Robert wrote:

    Well Khal, look at how 9-11-2001 changed us. Then consider that auto’s have killed about 397,000 more of us since then.

    They’ve killed far more than “crime” or wars.

    People might be scared for good reason.

    Posted 06 Sep 2011 at 5:50 pm
  10. Andy Cline wrote:

    Khal… The guy passed me on the right using a parking turn out. That’s not a lane on my right. He had to accelerate fast enough to get around in perhaps 30 yards. The danger would have presented itself if he had needed to turn back into the lane before hitting the curb and before getting past me.

    Robert… And thus what angered me re: scaring the crap out of “regular” folks.

    Posted 06 Sep 2011 at 6:22 pm