Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Oddball Close Encounter

I was headed home yesterday, riding south on 12th Street. I was stopped at the intersection with Idaho Street, waiting for green. A lady came up next to me in a bee-yoo-tee-ful long, low, shiny white Jaguar sedan. I was a little nervous, because her front wheels were turned slightly, as if she might be going right on Idaho (into my path, since I was southbound). But when the light turned green, we both went straight.

She got to the Grove Street intersection ahead of me, and pulled up properly behind the other cars that were waiting. I was approaching from behind.

Suddenly, she decided she was going to turn right (apparently), and rather than wait to get to the intersection, she'd use the space between the traffic lane and the curb. (Which is also the space I've grown accustomed to using… but it's legal for me on a bike, not for her in a car.) So… she pulled right out into my path. (As is fairly typical, she never signaled a right-hand turn. Perhaps you don't need to signal your intentions when you don't know what they are until the last second. Or perhaps those quirky British cars don't have turn signals.)

Now… I'm always wary of that sort of thing happening. That's why I'm still alive and somewhat healthy after so many years in the saddle. So, I grabbed my binders and hollered my traditional horn-substitute "HEY!!!"

Her passenger-side window was part way down, so she heard me. She slammed on her brakes… she was blocking my normal path, but I had room to squeeze between her and the curb, and proceeded on around.

She was obviously upset with me that I had startled her out of her traffic-induced stupor. "Ohhhhh! I didn't even see you!" she whined, in a strange, high-pitched voice. But I got the distinct impression that it wasn't apologetic, but accusatory. Since she didn't see me, I had no right to use my "HEY horn" on her.

I watched warily in my little helmet rearview mirror - she had made me nervous with her unpredictability. But she was soon lost in the traffic far behind.

1 comment:

danielo said...

Just last night I was chatting with a friend* I hadn't spoken to for nearly a year. When I told her I had cured my car addiction, she said "Well, I'll be more careful then, you guys are so hard to see!" I said, "Actually, the problem is that drivers are morons." I also explained that because drivers are morons, I take it upon myself to make sure I'm safe whether the cars around me can see me or not.

She said "My, you've become quite an elist, haven't you?" I assured her she was quite right.

*(No, she doesn't drive a Jaguar.)