Monday, October 22, 2012

The Walls Around Us: a tragedy in two parts

Part 1.

I was bicycling home by myself.  I was on the long straight piece where I can see up the road ahead and, in my rear view mirror, the road behind.  I have a bike lane.  The cars travel fast here but I don't feel unsafe as they have their two or three lanes and I have my skinny little ghetto filled with flat animals and broken glass.

Anyone who bicycles in traffic develops a strong sense of when something is wrong (sociopath at 2 o'clock, evasive maneuvers, cap'n!)  and I am no exception which is how I came to be simultaneously pedaling and trying to figure out what was happening behind me about a half mile back.

It was...a motorcycle.  In the bicycle lane.  Travelling at speed.  It was not a motorcycle darting in and out of the bicycle lane with a warm disregard for anyone's safety, it was a full on "this is the best way to go" motorcycle heading up the bicycle lane scattering bicyclists of all kinds to either side.  The pretties staggered onto the sidewalk, heaving their teal cruisers after themselves.  The roadies forced themselves into traffic.  The elderly Mary Poppin bicyclists stopped and huddled by the curb.  The hipsters stopped and waited for the storm to pass.

Meanwhile the motorcycle accelerated past all the cars on it's left and up the bicycle lane and now it was my turn to make a decision.  I ended up with a sick rabbit thing where I kept pedaling but huddled against the curb, my skinny tires bouncing along the gravel and assorted road junk until the motorcyclist blew by and I got myself back on the steady.

Then of course we are all at a red light together as that's the way this game always goes.  Some asshole nearly kills a bunch of people and we all meet at the next red light.  I notice that the motorcyclist has Colorado license plates.  I memorize the number because I'm good at stupid pet tricks that involve remembering strings of letters and numbers.

Me:  Hey.  You.
Motorcyclist:  [turns towards me]
Me:  Go back to Colorado.

The motorcyclist takes off when the light turns green, moving in front of the other cars until he encounters traffic and then going to his fallback position of travelling in the bicycle lane.  I think about how much I dislike motorcycles.  I think about how loud they are.  I think about how it scares me when they force their way past and I think about how being hit by a motorcyclist would be a lot like being hit by a car.  I think about how I hate it when people equate bicycles and motorcycles as if they were basically the same animal - they're not.

After awhile I think also about how it is always the worst of a tribe that draw attention.  The average motorcyclist doesn't come onto a person's radar like the guy who rides his ugly pig of a machine up the bicycle lane.  The only memorable bicyclist is the one who goes through a red light while a bevy of fat SUVs watch in frustration.  I finish by thinking that vehicles that speed are scary and that if cars pretty much always speed that goes about quadruple for motorcycles.

At least a week goes by during which I am sure that there is no common ground for me between bicycles and motorcycles.  Then I get a message about an accident and I am forced to see things differently.

1 comment:

  1. Are you okay?!? I cannot express the level of torment invoked by those words "Part 1" and then no post for a week! :P