Thursday, July 3, 2008

Musings of a Self-Riteous Cyclist

I don't know if I live in Portland because I bike. Or, if I bike because I live in Portland.

Frankly, I'm not very good at it. I had four crashes in a seven-day-span last month, which merely capped a lifetime of bike accidents that started with a car knocking me off my Huffy dirt bike and the two front teeth out of my mouff on the way to school back in 7th grade.

I've stuck with it, though and currently ride my wife's 15-year-old Trek mountain bike almost everyday to work (my sweet ride was stolen a couple years ago out of my garage, which to Portland riders is considered some kind of f-u rite of passage). And the city of Portland, often likened to Amsterdam, is embracing the effort, holding bike fests, enacting traffic laws to protect the biker and hopefully, with enough critical mass, will move toward
bike only thoroughfares. ( with it's 40 or so blogs related to biking in the area and links to proper legal counsel, sort of confirms Portland as Bike Town).

So what does all this bike love create? A happy little village where drivers and bikers co-exist in commuter harmony?

Not quite.

People who drive are typically in a hurry, talking on their cell phones and they just paid good money for gas so they don't really want anyone telling them what to do with it.

We bikers think we own the roads and every last SUV, bus and wheelchair must yield to us. We get off on cars making an illegal motion so we can chase after them dangerously, and teach those drivers a thing or two about "sharing the road." We delude ourselves into thinking that if everyone got out of their cars and onto their bikes, the world would be a better place, when in fact, the current riders would just be pissed about all the bandwagon bikers that are clogging up our narrow little bike lanes.

Since this blog is essentially a forum to discuss all the venom I spew and the hate that is subsequently directed toward me, I will share my recent run-in with a driver who I am clearly superior to because his vehicle is motorized and mine is not.

I was heading south on NE 16th around Lloyd Center at my usual 7:15 am ride time. As I started to merge out of the bike lane and into the right turn lane (which bikers use when making a right turn and not going straight), I extended an arm to let the oncoming Ford Explorer know I was coming over. I heard the SUV gun it's engine to cut me off and speed ahead in the right turn lane and so held off on merging to save my neck. I then followed the driver through the right turn and up to the first traffic light which was red. In my favor.

His windows were up so I exaggerated my lip movement to say, "Yield to bikes, dude!" He waved his hand at me, in his scoffing way and tells me I should have been in the bike lane. Which was just about the worst answer this pinhead in a suit driving an SUV could have given. Because now it's time for some driver's fuckin' ed.

I leaned up against his car and unloaded - "Listen you mutherfucker - I was making a right turn, so I had to get in the right turn lane. I was ahead of you when I put my arm out, so I had the right of way. And I'm on a bike so you gotta yield to my ass whether you like the previous two rules or not, you fuckin' SUV oil-hog bitch."

I watched the man shrink into his seat throughout my rant with great delight. But just as the last "fuck" emerged from my lips, I noticed the young child strapped into the car seat in back, terrified that the angry biker man was going to eat his daddy. As a father of a young girl, I felt some shame and left the incident at that. However, faced with a similar situation next time, I'll probably do it all over again and exonerate myself here.

In the meantime...

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