Although the title of this post seems to say it all, there is more worth saying. The story behind what led to this post is as incredible as it is disheartening.
It goes like this: The other day, I was taking a leisurely ride on my flatbar road bike. This bike can go pretty fast when necessary, but due to its more upright riding position, I use it for transportation, recreational riding and errands. None of these activities require attaining earth shattering speeds. Lumbering along is just fine, and particularly when I’m running errands, this is exactly what I do.
On that day, I found myself standing near a parking lot where I watched a male driver pull into a parking space, with breakneck speed, and exit his car in a hurry. He half-ran to a nearby store, practically knocking down a woman who was exiting the store, as he hurled the door open and tried to run inside.
The woman shouted out in disgust as she gathered her shopping bags to keep them from tumbling to the ground. The male driver didn’t even stop to apologize. He just plowed past her as if she was invisible.
I watched her shake her head in disbelief as her eyes followed the rude man into the store. The door shut behind him and I thought that this would be the last of him.
Packing my purchases into my backpack proved harder than I’d imagined. Several items were oddly shaped and didn’t fit into any reasonable configuration, with respect to resting on my back while I rode.
As I struggled to rearrange these items into a relatively flat surface, the rude driver came out of the store and headed towards his car. Then, he appeared to remember something, and abruptly turned around towards the store he had just come from.
His sudden movement took a driver by surprise. This driver was backing out of a parking space, just as the rude driver walked directly behind his car. Rather than admitting his error, he pounded his palm on the car’s trunk and yelled “look where you’re going!”
Having almost struck a pedestrian, the reversing driver flew into a fury which looked like road rage brewing in a can. He got out of his half-unparked car and turned towards the rude driver who had blamed him for his own mistake. With clenched fists, he walked to the rear of his car.
“Where you going, moron?” he yelled to the rude driver. The latter didn’t turn around to take up the challenge, instead hurrying his pace to put some distance between himself and the wronged driver.
Once out of harm’s way, the rude driver hustled to a nearby ATM and initiated a transaction. By this time, I was ready to roll. I hurled my heavy backpack onto my back and mounted my bike.
I couldn’t help but think about all the times drivers had called cyclists rude and entitlement minded. Wasn’t that a perfect description of the driver I had just observed?
A light I never make turned red just as I approached the intersection; I slowed to a stop to wait it out. Traffic was flowing on all sides of me at this always busy road.
Suddenly, music blared to my left and I looked over to see who was responsible. Wouldn’t you know it, it was the rude driver. He had caught up to me on the road.
I was tempted to ask him if he thought the music, which could be heard a quarter of a mile away, was loud enough. Given that he was in a car, and I was on a bike, I refrained.
Standing in my usual rush hour quick start-up position gave me an advantage when the light turned green. My early forward movement provided a good view of the intersection. I glanced left to see if anyone was planning to run the red light. There was no car movement on that side, so I glanced to the right; no movement there either.
As I proceeded through the intersection, I felt a strong breeze along my left arm. The rude driver was way too close to me, even though he had enough room to give me a four foot cushion.
Steadying my bike, I tried to move away from him. It didn’t look as if he was aware of me at all. Therefore, I decided to use the traffic ahead to my advantage, to get away from him.
I pulled to the right of a line of slow moving cars. This put me a little too close to the door zone, but that seemed preferable to riding near the inconsiderate maniac I’d been observing for some time.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t my day. I couldn’t put any distance between this idiot and myself, so I resigned myself to keeping a close eye on him.
Traffic began to ease up. This gave him an opportunity to pass me. A few car lengths ahead of me, I watched him tailgate the car in front of him. What a menace, I whispered to myself, hanging back for my own safety.
An upcoming light turned red, forcing the rude driver to stop at the front of the line. I rolled up behind another cyclist who had just come onto the road from the sidewalk, where his bike had been parked.
The rude driver rolled down his window and yelled at this cyclist: “What the hell is wrong with you bikers? You never ride where you’re supposed to be and you’re always in the way. Why were you riding on the sidewalk where people are walking? Trying to run someone down?”
“Shut up,” was the cyclist’s only response. Little did he know how rude and inconsiderate the driver scolding him was.
This lack of a reaction didn’t deter the rude driver who continued with his rant. “All of you should get pulled over for the way you ride. If I blew through red lights like you, I would end up losing my license. And, what happens to you? Nothing.”
As he uttered these words, the walk lights lit up in both directions. Pedestrians began to stream into the road.
Despite his complaints about cyclists, the rude driver was too impatient to wait for the light to change, so he started inching up into the crosswalk while the light was still red. Shortly thereafter, a green arrow lit up for the left turning cars.
Wouldn’t you know it? The rude driver floored his accelerator and shot into the intersection — even though the light was still red for cars going straight — and sped away.
The admonished cyclist in front of me turned around, rolled his eyes, and said:“What an a_hole.” He was actually polite enough not to use obscenities in public.
So, there we have it: another sanctimonious driver lecturing random cyclists about how they don’t follow the rules of the road, while, apparently, oblivious to the fact that he was not following the rules of the road himself. In addition, he was exceedingly rude and entitlement minded, not only on the road, but off the road as well. What we need to combat this phenomenon is the ability to hold up a mirror for clueless drivers to help them observe their own behavior before they start lecturing others on theirs.