Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bike Girl Chooses The Wrong Battle

Sometimes, even a fearless protagonist like Bike Girl needs to stand down. While it is true Bike Girl has a right to be in the road, and many drivers deserve to be yelled at and have their windows tapped, there are some times when standing one's ground, can prove to be the wrong decision.

Last night, as Bike Girl went on a run to cross-train, she found herself in a crosswalk near a busy grocery store. As she made her way across the street, a driver zoomed right in front of her instead of stopping and yielding the right of way.

Bike Girl yelled, "Hey, I'm a pedestrian! You have to watch out! You could hit somebody!"

The young man driving the black luxury vehicle yelled an obscenity at Bike Girl, that translates roughly to, "I don't care."

Bike Girl, wearing fleecy mittens, hit the trunk of his car with her hand as he sped away. He immediately slammed on the brakes in the middle of traffic, and he and his two friends piled out of the car. They surrounded Bike Girl. The driver of the car, who was about 3 inches shorter than our fair protagonist, began spitting obscenities in her face, coming progressively closer. Bike Girl looked right in his eyes, unafraid, and the short driver got close, stood on his toes, pressed his nose against hers while screaming at her, poked her eye with his pinkie and tried to rip off her glasses.

That was enough stoic standing of ground for Bike Girl. She pushed him back and told her not to touch her, and repeatedly yelled, "Get away from me!"

This attracted some attention. Other drivers had stopped and started yelling at the man. His friend appeared to be filming the incident with a cell phone, as if he had some desire to document how his 4'11" friend stood up to a lone female pedestrian who dared to touch his vehicle with her fleecy mitten.

Perhaps because Bike Girl's push was so powerful, perhaps because he finally came to his senses, and perhaps because a driver threatened to call the police, he backed off, got in his car, and sped away.

Bike Girl did not get the license plate of the car, and not a single witness had actually called the police to report the incident.

There will be zero consequences for this driver. He will likely go on to road rage another day, and Bike Girl prays that he never kills anyone.

Bike Girl didn't do anything out of the ordinary on this occasion. She regularly taps on cars to get drivers attention. She feels strongly that they should be made aware when they are doing something incredibly dangerous or stupid. But in this case, Bike Girl's actions turned out to be the stupid ones.

When the car stopped, she should have run away. The driver could have been more violent, or just as violent but drunk, and actually caused her physical harm. She also should have gotten the license plate number. Because that is the only way he could have been caught.

Bike Girl wants to assert her rights, but only in a safe way. From hearing other similar accounts, there seems to be a pattern of things that will make the driver become intentionally violent. The two most provocative actions one can take, are flipping the bird, or touching the car.

Bike Girl's significant other likes to give a thumbs down to bad drivers. That gets the message across without being quite as provocative. Our fearless protagonist is slightly more fearful on the road, and is not sure how she will react the next time a driver threatens her life with a deadly weapon, his car.


Alex said...

Bike Girl needs a Taser for X Mas!

RidingPretty said...

This is the best writing, delivering the best insight that I've yet read so far regarding these kinds of trying situations.
THX said...

Hey Bike Girl -- one other thing. Our culture's deranged worship of the car really works against you here. If that guy could show that you left the slightest mark on his car, you could have been cited for misdemeanor damage. I know it sounds weird, but I have had several clients in this position and it is not pretty. You quickly get portrayed as a psycho bike-rider who vandalizes innocent people's cars.

The lesson -- make sure that "tap" is really a tap, and it's probably best not to touch the thing at all.

Filigree said...

Don't do it Bike Girl, don't touch the car or the rude mean person, no matter what. Do keep a cheap quick digital camera on hand and snap a picture of the license plate. Also get names of witnesses. Then file assault charges.

Will Campbell said...

Don't believe for one minute there will be zero consequences for this speedbump of an assbag. You came away from such a harrowing incident second guessing your actions and feeling as if you picked the wrong battle, but one day so will he.

Courtnee said...

Maybe in the future you can sue the bastard. In the meantime, maybe you should loudly berate the drivers drawing attention to yourself in case the driver is similarly nutty.

danceralamode said...

I second Will here. He will get his comeuppance someday. He will do something stupid when someone else does something stupid, and his pretty little luxury car will be wrapped around a pole.

After running into numerous incidents like this in the past few months (like once a day) I've come to the conclusion that the only way to fight bad driving and negative behavior is with good cycling and positive reactions. I try to be courteous and friendly with drivers so that perhaps they can see that I'm a human being and be safe around me. I've noticed it working, but also have noticed that some people are just negligent drivers and it doesn't matter.

Stay positive Bike Girl!

Michael Sicurello said...

Bike Girl,

My approach to situations like this is that I can be an activist without being a victim.

I get the plate number and report an "erratic driver" to the police.

They are trained to handle potentially violent miscreants AND there's a good chance they will find a couple of reasons to bust someone like that.

Its not worth being right if you are also injured or...

Michael Sicurello

Anonymous said...

Great post you got here. It would be great to read more about that matter. Thank you for posting this information.
Joan Stepsen
Wise geek

sfwom1 said...

haven't seen a post by you for a while. Keep writing!

Elizabeth Flores said...

You are better off reporting him, snapping a pic of the car and posting here!! =D

Paul Metz said...

I hope you're still riding, and that you'll write again soon.

E said...

I wish Bike Girl would tell us what she has been up to these past few months.

professional photo editing said...

I had a very similar experience, after nearly being knocked off my bike, I was threatened with murder if I ever laid a finger on the car again!

Mike Schneider said...

Good read...I understand the frustration. I would say that not getting involved with agro drivers is the best response to road rage

John Romeo Alpha said...

Tapping seems like a good idea to let someone know they are about to hit you. It deters them from hitting you sometimes, and if they escalate, you can let them know you were alerting them. Tapping in retaliation for a boneheaded move, or to let someone know that they are stupid, blind, or ignorant of the traffic laws seems like a less good idea, even if well-deserved. Drivers are often reactive creatures, and you never know how they're going to react when you smack their precious.

jeep-suv-and-parts said...

bike girl needs to be a part the society of girls .

Jeep auto parts

“Interesting post, we shall be following your blog more closely in future! Best Wishes”

Vicious Cycle said...

I am a woman cyclist (and pedestrian) too. Bike Girl is my hero.

Anonymous said...

Hey Bike Girl!

Where'd you go?