My daughter was quite upset when she got home from work yesterday.
Turns out she had an unpleasant encounter with a motorist.
Her route requires her to cross Orchard Street at a non-signaled intersection. (For those not familiar, Orchard is a connector-type street, 2 lanes in each direction, and gets very busy during rush hour.)
It's always somewhat of a challenge, but it was particularly busy yesterday, for whatever reason.
As she sat there (on bicycle, of course) waiting for an opening to cross, a guy in a pickup truck pulled up behind her.
He began by revving his engine. (In this day and age of $4 gas, that is a definite clue that the gas-pedal operator may be a bit... shall we say... "challenged." What's the point?)
As she continued to watch anxiously for an opening in the traffic, Pickup Boy started honking. Then he rolled his window down and started shouting at her, when he thought she had adequate space to proceed.
The shouting quickly devolved. Soon he was shouting expletives at her. I suspect that if it had been another 30 seconds, he might have resorted to chest-pounding and angry Neanderthal gibberish.
Eventually she saw an opening, and proceeded. Pickup Boy probably accelerated on home and kicked his dog, or beat his woman.
MESSAGE TO PICKUP NEANDERTHAL
(Actually this is merely rhetorical. I doubt he has the capacity to read. But maybe somebody else will read it, scratching head thoughtfully.)
1) Don't gun that engine, dude! It has absolutely NO constructive purpose, and wastes expensive fuel!
(If I'm wrong - if that somehow helps, clue me in! Biker dudes like to do that, too... twist the throttle, snort, snort, snort! Since I ride a motorsickle from time to time, let me know if that's something I should be doing, because I've never really understood it.)
2) In fact, if it looks like it might be awhile - like more than 15 seconds - you might as well just shut that motor down. Be a hypermiler! Serenity now!!
3) Casual road cyclists - like my daughter - perceive rude and impatient and generally-bad motorists to be one of the primary deterrents to bicycle riding. (Maybe in your eyes that's a good thing. But if so, you're wrong.)
4) A bicycle rider has as much right to that pavement as you do. That rider also has to determine when it is safe to proceed into traffic. You make the call for you. The cyclist makes the call for her/himself. So CHILL, huh?
MESSAGE TO CYCLISTS
1) It's sad but true. Among all motorists, you have to figure that exactly half will be worse than average. And a few - maybe 5 percent - are going to be idiots. (There's no IQ test to get a driver's license. Some orangutans are smarter than some motorists.) I'd make a case that among pickup drivers, the percentage runs a little higher than among the motoring population in general. Most people will be patient and understanding, and give you the space you need to operate. So try to overlook those that don't. (Your encounter with them is over in seconds... they have to live with themselves 24 hours a day!)
2) You DO have as much right - by law - to the road as any motorist. So refuse to be intimidated.
3) Personal practice: I totally ignore that gunning-motor thing. If somebody has the audacity to holler at me, I try to react by smiling broadly, waving joyously, and saying in my pseudo-foreigner voice, "I'm fine! How are you?" It'll usually take a little wind out of their sails. (And reassures them that you know they are there, at least.)
(NOTE: It's rare that I get honked at, or hollered at. I'd say it happens 2 or 3 times a year, average. I suspect that this guy would've waited patiently for me, even if he honks and hollers at a woman. It's a "coward" thing, really.)
4) If it persists, or becomes truly harassing or threatening, I encourage you to get a good look at the driver in question, make note of the vehicle type and license plate number, and call the police. It is against the law to threaten other people on the road. It's called "road rage" - maybe you've heard of it. And the police will generally take your complaint seriously and have a heart-to-heart talk with the perpetrator.
Finally, in the words of one of the Elder Statesman of Road Neanderthals, Rodney King... "Can't we all just get along?"