Thursday, February 19, 2009

$&#@!* CARS!!!!!

One day this week, I was running late, so decided to take the short route to work. It certainly gets me there quicker, with only one problem to contend with - the traffic. Hence the principal reason I normally choose to ride a route that is nearly twice as long.

Everything was going OK until I merged onto Warwick Blvd, the main thoroughfare to and from the shipyard. At the time of morning I'm riding, Warwick is bumper to bumper with shipbuilders in their gas guzzlers, rushing to find a parking place. I take the back streets for the lion's share of the route - unfortunately there is a quarter mile segment of this route where getting on Warwick is inevitable.

This particular segment has a shoulder that's lined with parallel parked cars. To keep from getting doored, I am forced to ride further in the right traffic lane. I'm sure this annoys drivers who think they own the road and no one else has a right to be on it. As I was tooling along, I glanced in my mirror and noticed headlight just behind. Due to traffic in the other lane, the driver was forced to slow down and ride behind me for a full 2 seconds. The large SUV then pulled alongside me and just as I was adjacent to it's rear wheel, I noticed the front right turn signal blinking. I instinctively grabbed the brakes just as the SUV made an abrupt right hand turn in front of me. "What the H E double hockey idiotic blankity inconsiderate so and so..."

I considered following the SUV into the parking lot and confronting the driver - yet I've been riding long enough and cut off so many times that I knew exactly how the encounter would go. We would exchange un-pleasantries - the driver would have no remorse and stand firmly on the principle that "bikes have no business on the road in the first place".

I gave a wave of displeasure and rode on, shaking my head in dismay, taking deep breathes to calm myself. I realize that drivers are not attuned to look for cyclist.
  • I accept the fact that cars will pull in front me - simply because they didn't see me, despite the fact that I wear bright reflective clothing and my bike blinks like a Christmas tree.
  • I accept the fact that drivers will get right behind me and honk - startling the heck out of me.
  • I accept the fact that drivers will zoom by and occasionally yell at me to get off the road.
  • I accept the fact that drivers will make obscene gestures at me for taking up space in their world.
  • I accept the fact that drivers will occasionally throw things at me - actually that's not true - I don't accept having things thrown at me - but it happens all the same.
  • I accept the fact that girls will pass by me, scream and giggle in ecstasy at my rock solid, lycra clad body - actually that never happens - but if it ever does happen I can accept it.

However, when someone pulls up beside me, knows I'm there and turns into me - a move that could well have squashed me like a bug had I not taken evasive maneuvers - well that's a pretty hard thing to brook.

So why do I tell this story? Well for two reasons really. First - I guess I just need a place to vent. Secondly - I hope that it serves as an important lesson to my readers. That lesson is that the number one thing to remember when riding a bike is "RIDE DEFENSIVELY".

  • When you're approaching a side street where a car is waiting - assume it will pull out in front of you.
  • When a car comes around you from behind - assume it will turn right in front of you.
  • When a car is backing out it's driveway - assume it will back out in front of you.
  • When a car is facing you and making a left hand turn - assume it will turn left in front of you.

You will find yourself slowing down more than you need to - but trust me - one day - one of the aforementioned assumptions will be come a reality - and you'll be glad your hand was on the brake.

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