Wednesday, February 16

Dodging Minivans

I'm not playing games. When I go out on the road on my bike I am not playing games. I'm not there to intimidate anyone, to prove anything or to make any kind of statement. I use this blog to make my statements and to try and logically (Ha!) hash out the issues related to riding on the road. But when I strip it all down I am on the bike because I need to be on the bike going from point A to point C.

So when moto-fascists decide to play games I kinda get pissed off. When I'm abiding by the rules of the road and minding my own business, not inhibiting anyone from their travels, I expect the same treatment. I expect some common courtesy and a bit of consideration for the difference in my mass and the mass of the behemoth that the moto-fascists propel around with only the merest tap of their foot.

This morning I was stopped at Illinoising and 19th Street in Golden, on the south edge of Mines' campus, waiting for the light to change. In the past I've oriented myself over the left-most sensor to allow someone wanting to make a right turn on red to get past me. But after too many close calls from MFers (moto-facsists) turning too tightly left onto campus from east bound 19th I've decided its just not worth scuffing the paint on my bike, so recently I've moved to the center of the lane over the central sensor. This blocks anyone behind me from making a right on red, but I'm still within the bounds of the law and the close calls are not so close.

Today was a little different. I was situated just behind the white line and directly over the central sensor waiting patiently for the light to change. I saw the 19th signal turn yellow and I cocked a pedal up to get ready to take off. Then one guy tried to slip through. A Mines student in a minivan ran the red light not only cutting into the lane I was occupying, but cutting into it so far I could reach out and touch his van from where I stood astride the Cannonball. How do I know this? Because as he passed I reached out and smacked his back drivers' side window as hard as I could.

The light was already green, so with stinging hand I pedaled across 19th and continued slowly south on Illinoising. Why slowly? I was hoping in his self-righteous outrage he would drive by and call me on smacking his car. He didn't.

If I were childless and single I probably would have made a quick u-turn and chased him down to give him down the road. But y'know, it's just not worth it.

But like I said, I'm not playing games out there. If someone stepped on your foot on the sidewalk you'd yell "Hey!" Unfortunately when moto-fascists cut it too close or almost run you down there is typically little you can do in the way of calling them out publicly. I wanted that opportunity today and because Mr. Soccermom was apparently on his way to a fire I didn’t get it.

Maybe when I smacked his car he realized the error of his ways and immediately repented of his traffic sins. I'm not counting on it.

I know some would think what I did was not the smartest thing a person on a bike could do. What if he turned around and came back? What if he ran me down? What if someone saw me do it?

Well, to answer all three, what if next time he cut even closer and I just let it happen? What if I didn’t do anything to protect my personal space on the road? Would things get better? Or would moto-fascists take more liberties with my safety?

I know, I may have pissed that guy off. I may have caused him to hate cyclists and he may harass someone else. But I believe people need to be called out on their unsafe and inconsiderate behavior. We can’t tolerate rampant harassment on the roads. This is how we got to the point of "road rage" being a common phrase in our language.

Any suggestions on what I could have done better to call this guy out without inciting anti-cycling rage?

1 comment:

  1. I don't think you were out of line at all. If you'd have flicked him off and screamed obscenities, then that's different. I can't tell you how many times I've smacked someones trunk when they've almost backed into me in parking lots (either walking or riding).

    Seems to me that I will encounter idiots every single day whether I'm on the bike or in the car. Doesn't hurt to reprimand them from time to time (in a completely mature and respectful way, of course).