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