Monday, September 08, 2008

If I Should Die Before I Wake

We went over to T's house tonight for a lovely evening of dinner and conversation. She has a kitten lurking outside her house, who came in and made himself at home, the moment opportunity presented itself.

The weather is the kind of true summer evening I've been waiting for since last August--the kind where it's still short-sleeve weather at 9:30pm. The sky was Denver-like in it's clarity with a half moon watching over us. Jess and I sprinted like racers up a hill to be the first ones to call out two slug bugs we knew were parked in the next block (she won).

Halfway home we stopped at Freddie's to load up the Dummy with cat litter and ice cream and then continued on our way. There was hardly any traffic and a stunning view of west Portland from the bluff on Willamette Blvd, as we cruised along at 17 mph. It was a perfect night that made me feel lucky to be alive.

And then it was all shattered by yet another impatient, rude driver who almost ran us down.

As we approached our turn off Willamette, we took the lane and signaled. We turned left onto Bryant and I started to make the immediate second left onto Wabash when I heard Jess yell "WHOA WHOA WHOA!!!" Simultaneously, I heard the roar of a big engine and instinctively aborted my turn and pulled hard to the right, just as a huge pick-up truck roared through the intersection.

Had I made the turn, it would no doubt have smashed right into me. There's no way he didn't know we were there because he was behind us when we took the lane on Willamette to make our turn. Jess stayed in to the middle of the road after the turn in preparation for the second left and only moved over to avoid being run down, as he didn't show any signs of slowing or stopping for a mere cyclist.

Instead of basking in the glow of a nice evening spent with friends, I got home shaking, angry, and sad. What is so hard about sharing the road? What destination could possibly be so urgent that you need to kill or injure someone to get there five seconds faster? I will never understand.

It seems we just can't make a trip this summer without encountering some variation on this theme. On the way to T's house, we had just crossed Richmond St, which ends the 'busy' part of Willamette Blvd and we were riding side by side. I heard a car behind us so I dropped back behind Jess. As the car drove past, the driver yelled "Find a bike lane!"

Apparently, even on a street that probably sees two cars in an hour, we're expected to huddle on the sides like second class citizens, just so Mr Entitlement won't have to wait an extra .03 second to get by.

It's nice that bikes are getting lots of attention these days and all the people too broke to pay $4 are finally getting a clue--but the backlash effect is getting really old.

Can't we all just get home alive?

No comments: