Wednesday, June 25, 2008

We've Had ____ Days Without a Rude Driver

Car crashes into bike race
Originally uploaded by lazarus6

A bike commute should not cause crying. And yet, my girlfriend arrived home last night in tears, thanks to the sheer number of car drivers on the road, who seem intent on taking someone else out as they get from place to place.

Recently, Jess altered her route so that she only spends about four blocks on a main road--Interstate between Skidmore and Alberta--and yet she still can't get home without one, if not several incidents, in our supposedly Platinum Level city. This time it was the driver of a pick up truck who, deliberately and with malice, pulled out from the side street to turn right across the bike lane and onto Interstate, cutting off Jess, and (incidentally) the car next to her.

Jess is not what I'd consider overly confrontational, but even she was moved to yell, "I can't believe you just did that!"

"You guys (bikers) do it to us all the time," replied the equally insensitive passenger. "Why don't you try driving sometime?"

"I do drive, and I'm very respectful."

The driver then proceeded to swerve over into the left turn lane and make a U-turn across the MAX tracks on a red light.

I only hope the accident he someday causes only injures himself and whoever is stupid enough to ride with him, though I fear that won't be the case.

Shortly after that she was unnecessarily beeped at by some impatient woman who needed to get to the red light two seconds faster. The list goes on.

Today her bike is in the garage. She was so upset and frustrated by the culmination of what has been an ongoing trend, that she drove to work rather than risk another series of stupid people trying to run her down in rush-hour traffic. I don't blame her.

I have no doubt that she'll get back on her bike when she's ready. But it's sad that we (and by 'we' I mean all road users) have to worry about getting home alive because stupid people have been given a license to kill.

Earlier today, I was pondering this blog post as I began the ride home from my yoga class at PCC Cascade. Headed slowly along the ped/bike path through the parking lot, I was nearly run down by a driver speeding through the parking lot at 10-15 mph, and completely ignoring the stop sign in front of the path. I put my foot down and yelled "STOP!" at the driver, before my brain had even fully registered what happened. The driver, an old man in his 60's or so, just looked me as he sped on through.

A woman who was walking just behind me and talking on her cell phone, stopped her conversation to chant the license number long enough for me to make a note in my phone. Unfortunately, it probably won't do me much good. A call to the non-emergency police number yielded a sympathetic but basically helpless officer. Thanks to Ray Thomas, I do have the option and resources to pursue a citizen citation, but I'm not sure if even that's worth it, considering he didn't actually hit anyone. Mostly, I wish I could find out where he lives so I can show up at his door and have a chat with him about the importance of not killing or injuring people while trying to get around.

CrazyBikerChick has one of the most excellent open letters to drivers that I have ever read. If you drive a car, but don't ride a bike (or don't ride in traffic), I encourage you to go read it, and share it with others. I just want to get home alive. I just want my girlfriend to get home alive, in one piece and not stressed to the point of tears by people who never learned to share.

Is that too much to ask?

No comments: