Yesterday’s ride, after which I attend a meeting

Hi, I’m BikingIn…

Sorry, we only use first names here.

Oh. Okay. I’m, uh…Biking, and I’m a middle-finger-holic.

Hi Biking.

I promised myself I was going to quit. Really, I was. And I was doing okay. I hadn’t made a single obscene gesture or swore at anyone for over a month, no matter how much they deserved it.

Until today, that is. (blushing in shame)

Go on.

Well, there I was, riding up San Vicente on the way home from today’s ride, when two cars right-hooked me within just a couple blocks.

See, that surprised me, because most drivers there seem to be used to cyclists. And just look at me. Six feet tall and 180 pounds, bright yellow, black and white jersey. I mean, I’m pretty hard to miss.

But sure enough, some woman in a black Mercedes zipped by on my left, then cut across right my path to make a right turn. So I jammed on my brakes to avoid a collision, and next thing I know, I’m sending a one-fingered solute her way.

(Murmuring)

Then couple blocks later, bam! It happens again. This time an older guy in a ‘70s era rolling junkyard. He zooms by, cuts right in front of me to make his turn, then casually glances my way as I panic stop to avoid him. And yeah, the bird flew once again.

Five weeks of middle-finger sobriety down the drain.

Why’d they do it? Who knows.

Maybe they don’t know how dangerous it is, or maybe they didn’t know I had the right of way — same way a car in the left lane can’t cut off a car in the right lane. Could be they wanted to send a message, like the good doctor did last year, or didn’t think my life was worth the few seconds of inconvenience it would have taken to let me pass safely.

Or maybe they just didn’t care.

Worst part is, it’s not like those gestures did any good. Even if they saw it, it’s not going to convince the drivers that they did anything wrong. It just confirms that cyclists are rude a**holes, so they feel justified driving like that again next time.

Which is why I’m really, really trying to quit.

On the other hand, I could’ve flipped off the driver in Brentwood shortly after that. But I didn’t. No matter how much he deserved.

See, he was cruising along looking for a parking space. And not only was he clogging the whole right lane, he was also driving with two wheels in the parking lane, blocking my path, as well.

I checked to make sure there were no other cars coming, and swung around to pass him on the left. Then he sped up again, with no idea that I was riding right next to his driver’s side window.

The cars ahead of us were stopped at a traffic light, and there wasn’t anyone behind us. And I was going at least as fast as he was, so that meant I was moving at the speed of traffic.

And I could ride anywhere I wanted.

You see, section 21202 of the California Vehicle Code clearly states:

Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway…

But since I was moving at the speed of traffic — in fact, I’d picked up my pace a little, making me, at that moment at least, the fastest vehicle on the roadway — I took the lane.

The left lane.

Then once I was safely ahead of him, I signaled my lane change, and crossed back over to my usual position on the side of the road. Leaving one very surprised driver in my wake.

But I didn’t say one word, or make a single gesture. I mean, that’s got to be worth something, right?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to call my sponsor. And get back on the road to middle-finger sobriety.

……….

Metro finally considers lifting their ban on bikes at rush hour – hey, a radical idea like that could actually encourage people to leave their cars at home! Metblogs comments on all the non-cyclists clogging the beach bike path. A tourist in San Diego is killed after falling from a pedicab. In a truly heartbreaking report, a 90-year old Visalia cyclist is in critical condition after being struck while turning by a driver “who could not avoid the bicyclist.” Right. The NY Times asks if bicycling is bad for your bones; based on personal experience, I’d say it is if you fall. Popular Mechanics note that le Tour is a proving ground for innovations that could filter down to your level, including the new electronic shifters. A writer in the Hamptons argues for shared roadways. Finally, if you can’t find Will this morning, he’s at the Jackopalooza saying his farewells to Michael.

3 comments

  1. bikedate says:

    one thing i find is it seems that cars don’t realize we might actually be going pretty fast, so they think they can make it – they misjudge. and they also don’t feel we’re a threat to their safety so that affects their judgment too.

    maybe if we attached a giant rotating saw blade or something to the front of the bike they’d really check to see if they have time to make that turn…

  2. RussRoca says:

    I’m glad they are “considering” it.

    What ever happened to the talk of 5 rows of seats being pulled out of the Metro Blue Line to make bicycle/wheelchair space?

    Is that still in the consideration stage?

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