Friday, March 02, 2007

Share the road?

Here in the mid-Atlantic, the last snowstorm scarcely a week behind us, we were today treated to the very first unofficial day of Spring. Personally, I could not be more thrilled at this harbinger of the beginning of the end of my current bout of Seasonal Affective Disorder. However, when I took to the streets on my lunch break, I was confronted with one of Springtime's less agreeable harbingers: The Bike People.

I'm probably going to offend some people with this post, so let me say right off that I own a bicycle. Yes, I own it, I love it, and I enjoy riding it. It's pink and Mr. Salted built it for me out of his own two hands. I do not wear a helmet, although I know I should... But I keep to mostly trails, and sometimes the scenic country roads of the immediate area in which I reside. Oh, and if a car is coming? I get the fuck out of the way. Because I grew up riding bikes and that's how it works.

That's how it should work anyway. I don't know when the rules changed. When I was in high school there was a band teacher who wore spandex and rode his bike to school, and you know what? We all laughed at him. He was a freak! I wasn't in band; and I never had him. I didn't need to. He was the teacher who was infamous for pit stains and shaving his legs. When did this behavior become commonplace?

This afternoon for instance, driving along a two-lane in each direction, concrete divided, busy road; this jerk in a neon green windbreaker and black spandex is hugging the line on the side of the road, despite a good 2-3 feet to the immediate right of that line, just because he can. As a result, I had to creep alongside of him until there was a break to my left so I could get around him without knocking him off his pansy little bike with my side mirror.

What ever happened to "Share The Road"?! YOU people came up with that slogan! Why don't you try abiding by it for once? Do you even know the definition of the word "share?" Don't make me parade out the definition... (Because I will.) "v. - To participate in, use, enjoy, or experience jointly or in turns" If your helmet happens to be on a bit too tight, that means IT GOES BOTH WAYS.

And before you get all "Environmental Responsibility" on my ass, (I do applaud those who want to make a difference, I really, really do) most of the bicycle-related assery I encounter comes from recreational bicyclists. Remember those country roads I mentioned earlier? Well, every weekend from April until September, groups of dozens of bicyclists convene in the parking lot of the grocery store a few miles from my house and take to the road like they ain't the motherfucking Hell's Angels. The only difference being, that when you're stuck behind the Hell's Angels taking up an entire tractor-trailer sized stretch of road, they don't drive it at SEVEN MILES PER HOUR.

Can you imagine how much I feel like dealing with the following scenario: returning from a trip to the grocery store on a balmy July morning, ice cream melting in the back seat and crawling along behind of sea of jauntily colored helmets; just waiting for a clear enough stretch of road so I can gun past them hollering "NICCCEE PANNNTS ASSSSSSHOLE!" out of my passenger-side window? That's not uncommon whatsoever. That's called "Sunday Morning." Maybe this year I'll start keeping a semi-automatic water pistol handy under my seat.

If I can keep at least one Spandex Cowboy off the street, then I have made a difference.


Jeff said...

Nicely put. I also hate those motorists who feel they need to swerve so far away from the cyclist that they're kicking up gravel on the OPPOSITE shoulder. Personally I like to see how close I can get.

litelysalted said...

You and Mr. S both. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see a retard in tight pants get thrown off his bike as much as the next guy, I just don't want my car being the weapon of choice.

aejr said...

I'm a city biker, when my bike isn't broken, but i can tell you, it's NOT hard to stay on the side of the road. i'm completely paranoid, so i would go out of my way to not get near any cars, sometimes hopping the sidewalk if i have to... bikers can be assholes too, they aren't given a pass because they ride a bike beside cars.

Joey O. said...

And I'm sure you remember that very same teacher was hit by cars...too many times to count!

sme said...

My dad is one of those crazy biker people - I noticed the last time I was at his house that he had a "Share the Road" sticker on his car.
He's actually been hit a few times by cars - nothing that serious. Since I don't ride with him I'm not really sure if he's an asshole about it, but I do know that when I see bikers on the road I always think about my dad and steer clear.
My city dwelling, bike riding friend, M once yelled at me for driving behind a biker - I didn't think I had room to pass. She said that it was annoying to bikers and I should just pass them.
Those are my conflicting thoughts on the subject.

litelysalted said...

sme- I can understand why bicyclists wouldn't want you to drive behind them; I would think that's annoying too. HOWEVER my lefthand judgement is really poor, (evident by the number of times I've mourned passenger side windows) so many times I feel as though I have no choice. Clearly, though they annoy me, I don't want to commit vehicular assult.

Which brings me to another thing that didn't make it into my original rant... I can't vouch for other parts of the county, but in this part of Pennsylvania there are TONS of bike trails, both paved and unpaved... Some stretching for tens or possibly even hundreds of miles.

I don't understand why they would want to ride on roads in the first place. And I don't mean that in a snotty way, like, "I don't understand why that guy is such a jerk." But I really really don't get it. You couldn't pay me enough money to ride my bike on a busy road. The thought terrifies me.

joey: I actually did forget that he used to get hit. Heh, whoopsie!

MEECH! said...

Ms. Salted, I feel your same anxiety - especially, as I'm sure you remember, on roads such as Kutztown's 737 - where, if you were unfortunate enough to find yourself on the ass end of a cyclist, or an Amish Buggy, you were pretty much stuck there unless you had the amazing balls to pass them on that road.

There had to be absolutely NO cars coming for me to attempt passing - I just didn't want to risk hitting some poor spandex-laden ass. So there I would drive, at 5 miles an hour, with the FULL intent of passing when safe... and behind me cars are peeking out and jockeying back and forth, clearly clamoring for my head.

And there in front of me, the cyclist is turning his or her stupid head around, clearly annoyed. But I don't get right on their asses or anything, I just can't safely pass them for a stretch of time! And the fact that they don't move over makes me afraid I really have a chance to hurt them... not that I don't WANT to at this point, because seriously, when a person in a car is actually concerned for your safety - whether out of ignorance or otherwise - you ought to be singing Glory Fuckin Hallelujah. I know most cyclists are competent and you can pass them pretty closely and they won't be fazed, they're probably used to it, and most of them aren't clumsy enough to fall off their bikes right under your tires... but I just don't have that kind of courage on some roads, and they should understand that.

Yes bikers, I'm sorry to ruin your fun, but a lot of us "motorists" are afraid of the .01% we're going to squash you under our vehicles and, therefore, incur higher insurance rates.