Friday, August 14, 2009

"Get off the road!"

Yesterday I was riding south on Cole Road, between Emerald and Franklin (near the mall), during afternoon "rush hour." I wasn't particularly comfortable, but I was riding legally, staying as far to the right as "practicable," and going around 20mph. (There aren't really many alternative routes in that immediate area, that are much better.)

Most of the motorists dealt with the sharing situation with patience and grace.

However, I had an encounter with one female motorist in a pathetic little green Neon.

She came up behind me and laid on the horn.

Like everyone else, within maybe 10 seconds she was able to go on by. As she drove by, she and her passengers were screaming "Get off the road!" at the top of their lungs.

(Is more education needed? Would that constitute "intimidation"? If I was supposed to be intimidated into hanging up the bike, it didn't work.)

Predictably, they proceeded to the next red light, where I caught up with them.

There were four people in the car, all most likely "Generation Z" (that's for "Zombie" - late teens or early 20s, with that glazed-over "gamer" expression on their faces).

I told the driver, "I'm sorry to hold you up. I didn't realize you were in such a hurry to get to the next red light."

She proceeded to tell me, in a soliloquy punctuated with profanity for maximum effect, how I had endangered their lives by forcing them to go out into the other lane. (It's a four-lane road, and they had to use the other lane that goes in the same direction to get by.)

I explained to her - although I felt like it was generally a waste of breath - that I was operating legally, and that sometimes faster traffic has to wait for a break to get around slower traffic. And that she should call the police if she felt I was violating the law.

If such a motorist thinks I'm anxious to share the road with somebody of her mentality and comprehension, she's got it all wrong! If she thinks I was deliberately delaying her - wrong! If she thinks her right to use the roadway takes precedence over mine - wrong! If she thinks that trying to share the road and work patiently with other roadway users to minimize the unpleasantness will diminish her quality-of-life or delay her in a meaningful way - she really needs to calmly consider whether honking and screaming is really the best solution.

(I always wonder if such folks would behave in exactly the same manner if they were being followed by a police officer. I'm thinking it's unlikely. Of course, I also like to think that a police officer would know and enforce the law in such a situation, although I really don't have any evidence to support that opinion.)


Apertome said...

I had a similar incident today, except that it was a two-lane road with NO oncoming traffic.

The "Get off the road" comment bothers me much more than most things people say. It's a direct attack on my right to use the road and demonstrates a level of ignorance that leaves me flabbergasted.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you're out there, Bikeboy, because your ability to be calm is helping our cause. I can tell with certainty that my words to those ladies would have been but three, and they would not have been courteous. And it wouldn't have helped anyone. I'm a prick that way, but I simply do not possess your patience. Good work out there, soldier!