Friday, October 16, 2009

Bike Girl Needs A Pep Talk

Today on Bike Girl’s commute to work, a driver looked right into her eyes at a stop light and told her that her life was not worth a 1 second delay. Bike Girl asked how much that moment would cost her, and guessed the amount was less than five cents. She then asked if a human being’s life is worth five cents. This middle aged female driver said no.

This exchange took place just after the woman in her snazzy gold sedan merged into Bike Girl with no turn signal, nearly smashing into her front wheel, less than 5 feet from a red light, where the driver had to stop, still straddling the lanes.

“Lady, you were in the middle of the road,” the woman said. This is true. Bike Girl was in the middle of the right lane on a 5 lane road with construction on the tiny shoulder. The middle of the far right lane is exactly where Bike Girl should have been.

Bike Girl, like any cyclist, endures a lot of abuse from drivers, and she endures it on a regular basis. She endures it with a smile and a wave, and occasionally a yell of, “aaaaah!” Bike Girl also makes a conscious effort to obey the rules of the road. She even uses hand signals to turn in a town where drivers seem to believe their signals, speed limits, and even license plates are optional.

But today’s stony-faced, gray-haired, female driver found Bike Girl’s breaking point. Her blunt response that she would rather kill Bike Girl than be 1 second late sent our usually fearless protagonist to the curb, sobbing for 40 minutes.

Bike Girl sobbed because she’s tired of fighting. She’s tired of risking her life to get to work. She’s tired of memorizing license plate numbers of truck drivers who hit-and-run her and laugh. She’s tired of explaining the law to confused police officers. She’s tired of hearing that making her commute safer is infeasible. She’s tired of politicians who can get credit for being bike-friendly without actually doing anything to improve the bike-ability of their district.

Today an emergency room doctor is on trial for intentionally slamming on the brakes in front of two experienced cyclists and sending them to the ER.

Today a beautiful child is an orphan because of a truck driver’s inattention, and that truck driver is home with his family.

Somewhere a cyclist will be killed and journalists will ask if that cyclist was wearing a helmet. They will be shocked to hear that the cyclist died despite wearing that magical piece of styrofoam.

Please help fight this fight. Because while Bike Girl loves to ride, today, Bike Girl is tired of fighting.

If you want to fight, you can start by reading this.


danceralamode said...

Oh, Bike Girl! Don't despair! We fight for a brighter tomorrow for cyclists everywhere. Don't allow small-minded jerks to rob you of your super powers.

Anonymous said...

in the basket of my beach/city bike I try to keep a very hard pine cone handy (they are all around the streets north of montana).
for much of the late-model-sedan west side drivers range from distracted to selfish -- so when a particularly bad or dangerous driving choice is made the pine code and an invective is hurled with much force.

Cap'n Unclefather said...

Man, it can get discouraging out there sometimes.

I hope you'll be back in high spirits soon.

The Bronze Bombshell said...

That homicidal female driver didn't know the value of human life because she's not actually a human being, just an attractive troll passing as one of us.

I'm so sorry that you had such an ugly encounter. I hope that that's as mean as your streets get and that a great turnaround is coming.

duncande said...

There's a book called "The Sociopaths Among Us" that describes the closet sociapaths that we all know but don't necessarily recognize.

Pretty sure that this lady would fall squarely into that circle.

cycler said...

I am so sorry to hear that- it demoralizes me, just reading it, I'm sure I would have been sobbing on the side of the road as well if I'd actually been there.
When I confront a driver, I often lead with "do you have a daughter" I hope to make the point that if it was their daughter instead of some random stranger, it would be worth the extra 5 seconds. Unfortunately these exchanges are at stoplights, with no time to reach people when they're in their cager cocoon.
It's so frustrating thinking of what you could have said, and I tend to stew over such things for days.
Good wishes through the ether!

SundayGirLA said...

i hope for this horrible encounter you have dozens and dozens of positive encounters. she must have been a truly miserable person to treat you that way.

Michael Brown said...

I just discovered you, Bike Girl.

Keep fighting. You are not alone.

Andy said...

Hang in there. You continue to win by riding.

Carinthia said...

I just happened upon your blog from reading another cycling blog.

This incident makes me embarrassed to be a driver as well as a cyclist. On two wheels I have as much right to be in the middle of the lane as I do driving four wheels. That's the law.

I'd like to say I can't believe how some car drivers behave towards cyclists but sadly, I CAN believe it. What is it with some drivers that every single second counts? Would they deliberately drive at a pedestrian who was crossing the road? (insert, hopefully, 'NO' here) Would they deliberately ram another car because it was going too slow? (Umm... that's possible!) Both of these behaviours wouldn't occur to your average motorist - but terrorising a cyclist would. It's as if being in a metal box on wheels makes you 'better' and more important than those who aren't. Thankfully idiots like your nasty woman driver are in the minority compared to the number of cars on the road.

I'm glad you weren't hurt, Bike Girl.

Elizabeth Flores said...

It is really tragic on how some people behave... I stumble upon your blog and I absolutely love it!! Hang in there and know that you are doing right to your body & environment. This chick probably has so much stress in her life and all she can do is growl at others. Ignore this beast of human and keep doing what you do! You inspire us to ride! ride! ride!! =D