The last few weeks of cycling to-from work have been pretty brutal. I'm not sure what it is but, since the weather got nice, people have been driving so aggressively.
Yesterday was kind of a tipping point. It was the closest I've come throwing in the towel and buying a bus pass.
I was riding down the dedicated bike lane on Kentucky Ave. There was a backup of cars in the car-lane and a guy in a black SUV decided he was going to skirt the backup by swerving into the bike lane.
Unfortunately, he decided to do it right as I was alongside him.
I swerved and ended up leaning against the SUV with my hand on the hood to keep my balance. I somehow stayed upright until he swerved back over. I could hear him yelling at me so I just rode away. He pulled up alongside me just past Shelby St. screaming obscenities out the window. Despite my usual instinct to engage, I ignored him and kept riding.
As I crossed the railroad tracks at Steve Magre Alley, I noticed that he had pulled over a block ahead and was blocking the bike lane waiting for me. I stopped, pulled out my phone and started recording a video as I rode toward him.
Predictably, he drove off as soon he saw the phone in my hand, flipping me off out the window one last time before he turned onto Swan St.
This was a slightly more extreme case but I encounter versions of it almost every day. Someone does something illegal/inconsiderate/careless that puts me in danger and then they freak out at me.
And that's what kills me more than anything else. The sense of entitlement that so many drivers have and how many people are willing to risk my live to save 10 seconds.[^1]
The common refrain at this point is always the whole law-flouting cyclist thing. And I'll be there first to admit there are absolutely assholes on both sides. The big difference though is the consequences between a momentary lapse on a bike and piloting several thousand pounds of steel. [^2]
I'm endlessly frustrated by the lack of understanding when it comes to cyclists and pedestrians. Despite the clear benefits to the environment, the economy, and public health, so many people argue against dedicated, protected bike lanes or want to tax cyclists.
I'm tired of living in a city where cyclists & pedestrians are second class citizens. I'm tired of reading about the endless injuries and fatalities with no consequence. I'm tired of getting yelled at for trying to cross the street with my kids.
This is just me venting after too many close-calls and arguments in too short a time. I don't know what the solution is so I think all I can do is keep fighting and keep riding.
I refuse to let this city beat me.
[^1]: For example, there have been 5 incidents where I would've been hit if I had entered the intersection when the light turned green in my direction. One day, I counted 9 cars running the red light at the intersection of 4th and Broadway.
[^2]: Cyclist Fatalities in Traffic Crashes, 2003 - 2012 https://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812018.pdf
[^3]: This story is also published on Medium