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There were never any "good old days" — they are today, they are tomorrow
Cager is as cager does 
17th-Oct-2010 09:32 pm
no more surrogates
Most Oakland drivers are pretty decent about coexisting with bicyclists and sharing the road. Today I had the displeasure of encountering one of the other kind.

Pirate and I had been out doing errands until he peeled off to head to work and I turned towards home with my groceries strapped to my rack. As I headed up East 18th Street towards the light at Eighth Ave, a car buzzed past me (too close) on the left, and I heard the passenger say "Asshole!"

Now, I've been working on not letting the occasional craniorectally-inverted cager get to me, so I muttered "Whatever" and flashed a peace sign at them as they zoomed away. And then they stopped, and the woman in the passenger seat got out and came toward me.

"What's that? What'd you do?" she came at me, attitude to spare.

"Peace!" I said, flashing the peace sign again.

"That weren't no peace sign, that looked like one finger, not—"

"PEACE!" I said again. "TWO fingers. Like this." And demonstrated again.

"You need to get out of the road! You need to be—"

"State law gives bicyclists the legal right to use the entire lane, ma'am!" I said loudly and forcefully. "Vehicle Code section 21202!"

"Oh," she said, obviously taken aback, then tried to get her head of steam up again. "Well, it's not safe! You should be over—"

"It is illegal to ride a bike on the sidewalk, ma'am!" I hollered.

"I'm not saying you should ride on the sidewalk, I'm saying—"

"I am not going to ride on the sidewalk, ma'am, and I am not going to ride in the gutter with the parked cars!"

"Well, it's not safe and you're just going to piss off the—"

"No other car today has—"

"So now a bicycle's a car? First I've heard—"

"Other than you, ma'am, no other driver has had a problem with me riding with where both the law and safety say I should!"

By this point, it was obvious that she wasn't winning, and she knew it. She turned away, continuing to complain about me being where I was, and got back in her seat. She continued her conversation with the driver of the car at high volume, obviously intending me to hear and (I guess) suddenly be struck by the obvious rightness of her position. I just stayed on my bike waiting for the light to change. (Okay, I did give a dramatic "Whatever" roll to my eyes as I waited. My adrenaline was up and my temper was short. You call me an asshole for being where I have the full legal right to be, bitch? Fuck you sideways.)

In the heat of the encounter, I didn't think to pull out my phone and take a photo of her, and of the car's license plate. Next time I'll try to remember that.

Y'know, I read Witch on a Bike daily, so I keep current on how many bicyclists get killed and injured on the roads. But in my everyday life, most of the drivers I encounter are pretty decent, if not downright friendly. This kind of thing, though... As Pirate texted me in reply when I messaged him about it, "It still catches one off guard - no, we're not making it up. They do hate us this much."

I've been mulling over plans for a new addition to the bike for a little while now. I want to take some kind of mesh fabric (so it won't catch the wind and act like a sail or air brake) in a bright, safety/traffic sign yellow, and make a sign to mount on the back of my rack and fender, as large as is practicable. And on it will be this image:

And another thing I've been thinking about doing for a while is to put a small but legible sign on my handlebars, where I can see it: "Marc MacYoung says let it go."

I still want a helmet cam. And I still want an AirZound.

Argh. And
(Deleted comment)
18th-Oct-2010 09:31 pm (UTC)
Riding in the gutter is dangerous. If the grating is parallel to the direction you are travelling in, you can't steer out of it, and in the worst case your tire could get trapped. Dodging around parked cars is also infinitely more dangerous than staying in the middle of the lane.
18th-Oct-2010 06:04 am (UTC)
The only flaw I see with the sign plan is that the typical craniorectally-inverted cager will not understand what CVC stands for.

Situations like this make me miss my old college town with its bike lanes everywhere...
18th-Oct-2010 09:34 pm (UTC)
Cars and bikes and peace signs aside, if someone just called you an asshole, they have no right to be upset if you flipped them off. If anything they should expect it.
18th-Oct-2010 09:47 pm (UTC)
Sometimes it's a good thing that snappy comebacks don't actually come to mind until the situation is past. I was safely home in my living room before I realized the appropriate comeback (if I'd been trying to escalate hostilities) would have been, "No, ma'am, this is two fingers [demonstrate peace sign]; this is one [flip her off]."
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