Two Wheels - Six Strings

Random news and thoughts about various two-wheeled projects and music, especially my band, Skull Full Of Blues.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Anarchy on the Streets

I love riding my bike, in general. More so, I love commuting by bike; it is gratifying on many levels (most of which I have touched on here, before, so I won't rehash all that). That said, I sometimes dislike the fact that commuting on city streets puts me in contact with a lot of Less-Than-Courteous drivers.

Today, I had two experiences with such drivers in a four mile span. LTC Driver #1 was a lady in an Acura of some sort who, apparently, is the most important person in Denver. As I rode down the street, in a residential neighborhood with a posted speed limit of 25, I was doing 15 mph on the snow. Since I was obviously holding her up, this "lady" passed me...on the ice and snow...between two rows of parked cars.

Problem was, we were approaching the intersection with Montview Ave, a fairly major street, and she didn't have room to actually pass me before we reached the stop sign. So, she simply drove beside me, in the wrong lane, and stopped at the sign, still in the wrong lane!

This is not the first time I have had someone do this. And, every time it happens, I wonder what's going to happen if someone on the cross-street wants to turn, and there is a car in their lane, and me in mine. I was not happy with that, to begin with.

Coming down Montview, from our left, was a kid, 11 or 12 years old, on a 24"-wheeled mountain bike. He was in the bike lane, and just riding along. When he got about 15 feet from the intersection where I and the Most Important Person In Town were sitting, MIPIT decided to cross the road in front of him, causing him to have to hit the brakes and swerve to his right to avoid being run over. Luckily, he just fishtailed around a little and didn't fall.

He looked at me, as I flipped the bird to MIPIT, with an expression that said, basically, "What the hell was that all about?"

"You can flip her off, too, if you want," I told him. "She deserves it." So, he smiled at me, hoisted a finger at the back of MIPIT's car, and continued on. As did I.

Four miles further along, as I was crossing over Cherry Creek on the Holly Street bridge, I encountered LTC Driver #2. The Holly Street bridge is new, and is the first of two new spans going across the creek to replace the old span which had structural issues. Currently, it has one lane eastbound, and two lanes westbound (the direction I was heading). The center lane is the through lane, and the outside lane, against the rail of the bridge, is a right-turn only lane.

As I crossed the bridge, there were four vehicles in the right-turn lane, and the through-lane was empty. I pulled up to the "wait here" stripe on the raod, next to a an older Chevy S-10 pickup, and went straight, when the light turned green. I always go across the intersection, angling toward the curb at this point, so that I can get into a small park and use the bike path to enter the neighborhood through which I ride to Evans Avenue.

Usually, no big deal.

This time through, I heard a horn blow. As I usually do when I hear a horn, I ignored it and just kept pedalling. But, the horn sounded again, unceasing.

You know the drill...lean on the button and hold it down. So, I turned and looked. The sound was coming from the S-10, which was proceeding straight through the intersection from the right turn lane. Apparently, I was slowing him down.

So, I did what I normally do, again, and stopped in the middle of the road. I think it's good for people like that to be able to compare a temporary slowing-down with actually coming to a halt. I should have been a teacher, as I truly love the concept of learning through interactive experience.

More horn-blowing ensued, so I turned around and rode up the driver's side window to see if the button was malfunctioning. The old codger in the truck looked like Ted Kaczynski, on his way back to the Unabomber Shack after a hard day of manifestoing.

The old guy, let's call him the Unadriver, cracks the door open as I ride up, rather than rolling the window down. Pretty smart of him to keep the glass between him and me, I suppose.

"You're in the right-turn lane," I say to him, amazingly enough in a conversational tone. No yelling, cursing or name-calling at all, I want to point out, as I was trying to actually let this guy know he was being kinda rude.

"NOI'MNOTI'MINTHELEFTTURNLANE!" he literally screamed at me, with spit spraying on the window glass (I'm glad he left the window up!). "

No," I said, still in that conversational tone, "you aren't. There is no left-turn lane." And, if there was, I thought later, why would you be going straight?

"I'MINTHELEFTTURNLANE!" again, spit flying. I had a sudden vision of the Crazy Cat Lady from the Simpsons. I was just glad he didn't hurl any tabbies at me!

At this point, I was weary of the Socratic dialogue we were having, and turned my bike around to continue on. Unidriver took the opportunity to peel out through the intersection in front of me. I'm sure he saw this as some kind of victory, though it probably never will occur to him that if I had been in any kind of hurry, I wouldn't have stopped to talk to him.

I then crossed the intersection, again, and rode into the park, chuckling at the absurdity of the whole thing, but tense from the encounter. By the time I got home, I was in a pretty black mood. I emptied my panniers and went to the grocery store to pick up some dog food, and other little things I was short on.

On the way back, every driver I saw made me think, "What a moron!" So, I recognized that I was not really in my happy place (although, unlike Steve S., I don't think mine has been nuked).

I went home, made dinner and had a couple of G&Ts for dessert. By morning, I was happy, again. The temps were relatively warm (34 degrees F), and every driver I encountered on the way to work seemed to give me extra room on the road. As usual, my self-medication of sleeping on it then taking a bike ride has pulled me out of my funk. Still, I needed to share. Venting is good for the soul.

Thank you for your time.


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At 6:40 PM , Blogger katina said...

Yeah, we had one of these thingies in our neighborhood--a left turn only lane, a straight lane, and a right turn only lane. And every day (EVERY SINGLE DAY), there would be someone who decided they didn't want to wait in the long line going straight, so instead, they would go in the right turn lane and then go STRAIGHT THROUGH THE INTERSECTION because it's better to cause an accident than to just wait the freaking 2 minutes it would take for you to get to the stop sign. And to think, I don't even ride a bike.


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