When a bicyclist gets quiet, the non-bicyclist assumes that one of two things has happened:
1. A long-suffering automobile has finally cashed that smug good-for-nothing bicyclist's check. Ka-pow! One less bicyclist.
2. The bicyclist has finally realized that, wow, they can get places faster if they drive in a car! Of course! How could I have missed this!?!?
Now the real reasons:
1. I am getting married this weekend and so am a little busier than usual. And yes, I am marrying another bicyclist. A recumbent rider no less.
2. I made my annual visit to Massachusetts where the bicycling is such a goddamn horrorshow that I was rendered briefly speechless.
Because I know my non-readership is suffering grievously I bring you Chafed words via a guest-speaker, my long-suffering co-adjutor who is not just a car-free bicyclist but a vegan car-free bicyclist. Let me translate that for you: whatever you're doing, he's doing it better, but he's way too evolved and classy to ever say so so I just said it for him. You're welcome.
Note: I've added a few pictures because my kids tell me it's not a story without a few telling pictures.
Riding my bike northbound on Bryant (a “Bicycle Boulevard”) in Palo Alto, I had the pleasure of riding alongside a young blond woman driving a brand new red corvette. I gave her plenty of room to pass, as I always do for cars. I cannot stress how much room there was for everyone. I stopped at every stop sign and signalled at every turn. Said blond passes me once in the block before the light -- with plenty of room, mind you. She then has the unfortunate hassle of getting stopped at a red light (awwww). Catching up to her, I pull alongside the passenger side of her vehicle, giving her at least 2 feet between myself and her car. This is done so that I can take into consideration cars wanting to turn right (since I am, after all, a considerate cyclist). The light turns green. We both get going and at no point am I anywhere near the front of her car, or impeding her right of way.
We are just two souls temporarily traveling in the same direction, with plenty of room for everyone. Or so I thought.
Halfway through the intersection, I see in my peripheral that she somehow got it in her pea brain that it’d be a good idea to flip me off -- for no immediately apparent reason. Curious, I follow her with the intention of asking why. I saw her run the red light at University, then make a right into the parking garage. Perfect! I catch up with her as she’s getting out of her car in the garage. “Hi! I saw you flipping the bird, and I just wanted to know if that was intended for me and, if so, why?”
She doubles down, “Because! You kept cutting me off! I was concerned for your safety!”
(The rest of this is directed specifically at said, entitled blond).
Um... we were going northbound on the same street for all of about 4 short blocks (on a bicycle boulevard). During that time, there were 2 stop signs and a red light. You had plenty of room to go around me at any time, and you did safely (with the exception of taking your right hand off the wheel to unnecessarily make an obscene gesture) pass me exactly twice; once in the block before the red light, and once in the intersection.
Even if, in some alternate reality, there somehow wasn’t enough room for you to safely pass, I was definitely not going significantly slower than the speed limit. This, alone, says a lot. It says that you cannot and should not be bothered with a 2 - 3 second delay per block (not that any of that really mattered since you rolled up to a waiting red light that would have delayed your entire journey by the exact same amount of time -- but, I know, that’s thinking too much). Never mind that those 3 blocks are a popular bicycle boulevard, and that one might expect such exhausting, majorly inconvenient delays should one choose to take that route.
I know that you think you own the road, but you might run into this again. So I’ll break it down for you: I was giving myself just enough room to not get a “door prize” on my right, and enough room for you to pass (as most considerate cyclists are wont to do). I then gave you more than enough room at the red light, and also enough room for drivers wanting to turn right (onto Hamilton) to do so. There was plenty of room for everyone. So, I’m curious -- why does it mean that, just because you don’t know the spacial relationship between your big-ass fiberglass boat of a car and the rest of the universe, you deserve an abnormally and enormously wide berth from everyone who happens to be anywhere near you? Why do you feel so entitled that nobody should be anywhere near your car, despite it being a public road, just so that you can feel that your safety bubble isn’t being violated? At exactly what distance does someone have to be so that it is safe for you to proceed careening down the street?
I must say that chatting with you was telling and humorous. After declaring that you were “just concerned for my safety,” I could tell that you were full of shit... not that there was really any doubt prior to our conversation. Concerned for my own safety, and the safety of others, I decided to record our interaction with the intention of getting a description of you, your vehicle, and your plate number. Most of all, so that I could warn other cyclists. Recording was a good thing, too, since you immediately got on your phone with your “lawyer” (whom you kept calling “babe”) and started to say things like “I’m being assaulted” and “he’s threatening me” -- none of which could have been further from the truth.
Again, my intention was to get a description of the vehicle, driver, and the plate number for the purpose of disseminating valuable information that might help to save the lives of countless other cyclists and pedestrians. As alluded to above, my only other objective was to satiate my own curiosity and inquire as to why you felt compelled to flip me off. I’m sure you’ll somehow twist that up in your own tiny little mind to equate to “assault.” Alas, that is why video recording was invented.
Anyway, after hearing you babble on for a few minutes, I can see exactly why you felt the need to flip me off. It was because you’re an entitled little princess who has no idea how to drive or act around other people. Just by looking at the way you drive, what you drive, and hearing you talk, there’s now no doubt in my mind that you grew up with everything handed to you, and that -- of course -- you grew up in a bubble where you were protected from the scary concept of “other people.”
My only fear is that our revealing encounter did absolutely nothing to deflate your enormous sense of entitlement. That, and I fear that you’re going to kill or seriously maim someone since you clearly have no idea how to drive that ridiculous and quintessentially “dumb blond” death-mobile. I am thoroughly convinced that it is a grave error that you have a license at all.