Thursday, September 23, 2010

From now on, I am driving my bicycle

I rode in to work the other day.  Usually my bike commutes are uneventful, even here in Dallas (which is not generally recognized as a bike friendly city).  Once in awhile I get a honk, but the number of cars that go by without incident far out number the ones that cause trouble.

This commute was different.

First, I met a fellow bike commuter who is a member of the Lone Star Randonneurs who was testing out his rig before an upcoming 300k event this Labor Day.  He said he opted for the 300k route instead of the 600k route so he wouldn't be too worn out for his upcoming 1200k route in Colorado.  There are people who love cycling, and then there are people who love cycling.  We chatted for a mile or so at 20mph before he took off like he was shot out of a cannon.

Then I lost my temper. On an essentially residential street, one wide lane in each direction, I came up to a intersection with a stop sign.  At the intersection there was a short lane marker for those turning left vs those going straight/right.  I pulled in to the left hand turn lane as required by law.  An SUV pulled up behind me, and the ignorant-of-the-law driver said "get on the sidewalk!".  I said, "you first!" and proceeded in to the turn.  Normally, I ignore and blow off idiots like this.  They aren't worth my time, and not worth breaking my zen-like riding state.  But this one got to me.  Maybe it was because as I made the left turn and took the right most lane, I knew the car would pass me on the left.  And as the car came up, I could see the passenger side window rolled down and I knew what was coming next.  I opted for a preemptive strike and yelled in no uncertain terms that the driver and passenger should learn the law.  There might have been some descriptive terms about their intelligence after that.

I'm not proud of that, and it was not the best way to handle the situation.  I've decided that the best way to handle the situation is to take a picture of the car with both the driver and the license plate in view and submit it to the proper authorities.  I think a cheap disposable water proof camera (do they still make those?) would look great hanging from my handle bars.

I am no longer riding my bicycle.  I am driving it.  "Riding a bike" is what kids do.  "Driving a bicycle" is what serious adults do to get to work and back.  I have a wife and a dog and a mortgage and potential future children and I choose to drive my bike to work to maintain my sanity and my health and I will command the respect that any other commuter is entitled to.

On the way home, a driver pulled up in the lane next to me with his window rolled down.  After the morning's incident I was expecting trouble but he surprised my by asking if I knew where a hotel was (unfortunately I didn't).  Just goes to show that not all encounters with cars are bad.

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