the reach around

been commuting to work by bike now since 2004. I wouldn't trade my ride to work for anything. although that's not to say it's not without its shitty moments. below is a diagram of perhaps the most sketchy and common situation I face riding my bike in Halifax. it's not only drivers speeding around you to make a right turn but also just to get around to make it to the red light before you do.

I tend to have different reactions to shitty driving especially when I feel like the pulse passing through my veins at an increased pace could have been my last. sometimes I just ignore it. other times the middle finger makes me feel better. gave a lady one this morning -she slammed on her brakes and zipped into the bike lane to park giving me less than a moments notice to correct.

sometimes I totally loose it. a few weeks ago I almost got licked by a young woman driving a purple Ford Ranger extended cab. I caught up with her at the next light and pulled up to her window which was halfway down. she was still texting away on her phone. I gave her a few choice words that my Mama would not be proud of. she wasn't expecting me and that's the point.

sometimes loosing it has its negative side. one time in Portland, Oregon I was cruising home from work on my fix when an oncoming car swerved way into my lane to get around a car parked in his lane on a residential street in a NE neighborhood. I gave him the finger and loud "fuck off.!!!" homeboy slammed on the brakes, u-turned and came after me. lucky for my I dipped down a dead-end, one-way that I could sneak across the grass and make my way down to MLK. I lost the guy. he may have kicked my ass.

more recently a guy on a sport bike got pissed cause I dipped around him at the light. I'm on a bike man. he caught me at the next light and offered to kick my ass the next time I did that to him. in a moment of adrenaline filled bravado I told him "lets go." the light turned and he twisted his throttle like it was something I should admire and was off.

I love how the power of the gas pedal and the combustion engine gives people a sense of power, no matter how meek and weak they are when they are just flesh and bone, sans machine.

lots of people that I've met over the years who were regular bike commuters got licked down by a car at one point or another. my friend Drew from DC took two massive beatings. luckily he still rode his bike and wasn't too jaded.

hard for me not to be a little uppity about riding my bike to work. it takes effort and I have to endure some shitty weather sometimes. but it is also amazing to feel the blood pumping through my veins halfway through my morning commute, sleep still heavy on my eyelids. and it's great to speed home and bank turns after work.

and no I don't have a DUI. I choose to ride my bike.

if you cut me off and I give you the finger or worse it's because I take it personal.


Anonymous said...

I like your nasty side Rick- come to the dark, come to the dark.


lawless said...

Quit being such a pussy and start smashing some windows with your U-lock.


nm said...

i have chosen not to bike commute...simply because i don't trust drivers. when i first moved to ptown almost 20 years ago....i hung up my car keys & walked EVERYWHERE. I have encountered several close calls. As a result...I came to respect pedestrians & cyclists...as a driver. They always have the right of way when i'm behind the wheel. I know i'm in the minority with that...unfortunately.

IF ONLY Surf Shop said...

Ha ha... fixed gear....



ras said...

dude if only you rode your bike to work biaatch. don't front.

Eef said...

i used to bike commute for many years on my mountainbike in Amsterdam and absolutely loved it (i love bike quite a bit, too). after some time you get really fast. Bunny hopping on and off the sidewalk and swerving round cars. To scare off angry car driversi adopted some bike messenger style: i wore my fat chain bike lock over my shoulder, ready to go (like i ever would do that ahaha).

Bu cars can be very unpredictable, even in here in Holland were everybody is used to loads of bikes on the street, and i have a amazingly shaped colarbone to prove it :D

Great thing about riding a bike is that pedalling has great riddim, and when i was in a hiphop band i got all my ideas for lyrics when bike commuting.

Keep rolling, cause bike rock!


turtle said...

Biker awareness and biker acceptance are two different things. (Both would be nice) Mouthing off blows off steam but may not have the most affective results. That said, I've been know spit on windshields when I can't catch up to cuss 'em out!

Your very scenario killed two bikers in less than a month in PDX 2 yrs ago. One involving a dump truck! I think the "green bike boxes" are working to raise awareness and curb "right turn" collisions. If need be, get some spray cans and some cardboard stencils and make them yourself.

tres_arboles said...

The cyclist vs. driver thing depresses me. Societal attitudes about bicycles are seriously underwhelming in North America.

If I could, I would ride to work daily. I live 54 miles from my office. So instead, I support cycling others who use their bikes as authentic transportation mode in urban society. I ride for fun and fitness instead.

But unfortunately there's a whole range of attitudes about power hierarchies on the road that lead from support for cyclists to dangerous indifference (I still don't get how people think they can text and drive), to outright hostility. I honestly don't get where the latter comes from.

We've had several car vs. cyclist traffic deaths this year in Seattle where culpability was clearly with the driver. Yet public opinion, as detected from things like the comments to online news articles from our local papers and the "frame" of the local evening news reports (biased toward the driver), was at best mildly sympathetic, to unemotional, to mildly accusatory (of the cyclist). In a city that was formerly known as one of the best cycling cities in the US.

Then, just this week, a six-year-old kid walked away from his father, stepped into traffic and was hit by a cyclist and badly injured. A mob assembled and threatened to beat the guy to death. To them, he was an "idiot" and had to have been going too fast.

If the boy had been hit by a car, public opinion would have been that the father was a bad and that the accident couldn't possibly have been the fault of the car driver. Never mind that a bike can stop a hell of lot faster than a car going the same speed.

I don't get it. Just take care of yourself hermano.