Monday, July 23, 2007

renewing my faith in humanity

5:30 pm this afternoon, i was on my bike heading eastbound on L street, and the light at 13th street was red. there was a woman on a bicycle at the light, and a bmw 3 series sedan with virginia plates behind her. i came up to the intersection in the lane to the left and pulled up alongside the woman on the bike. the man in the bmw laid on the horn 4 or 5 seconds later. i ignored him (cars honk a lot for no good reason when i'm on my bike), and he honked again. i said out loud, without turning around, "hold your horses, you'll get to virginia before the day ends." at this point, i could sense the car moving towards me from behind.

now, i've had cars play that fun game called "let's see how close we can get to killing the bicyclist" because they must think it's funny to scare the hell out of 165 pounds of flesh and aluminum with their 3000 pound vehicles. so i figured this guy was just going to try to intimidate me with his car (meanwhile, there are only about 10 seconds until the light changes). turns out this guy is pulling HALFWAY UP ON THE CURB to try to drive around me and the other cyclist. i turn around, with what must have been the most incredulous look on my face, to see this guy rolling the window down. he yells, "you're an asshole. i could have turned right on red if you just get out of the way."

now, at a deep level, he's right. and i could have been eating his entrails if he just would have let me disembowel him and turn it into sausage. but i'm a vegetarian, so i guess that wouldn't work now, would it?

anyway, i was ready to lose it, but the light was green, and it was time for me to go. he proceded to shout "you're an asshole" a few more times, and i couldn't come up with a good quip, other than "you're the asshole" (yeah, i'm pathetic). so i biked away as he hammered it and headed down 13th street, back to his home somewhere across the potomac.

i caught up with the other biker, and she asked me if i was from around here. turns out she was in town from NYC, and she wanted to know if DC drivers always treated cyclists like that. i told her it was unfortunately common in my observation, and she said she never sees it that bad in new york. i'm sure there are jerks up there too, but what i really want to know is why was this particular guy so peeved. i'm not going to go into the obvious, like how he could wait 30 seconds at a light if the vehicle in front of him is going straight ahead, be that vehicle on two or four wheels. no, what i want to know is this: virginian, or beemer driver? which is the least redeeming quality?


Anonymous said...

Loved the poll!

Rob said...

I think that looking at the region as a whole Virginians are generally the better drivers. But that guy was just some lawyer asshole.

Anonymous said... prevented this guy from taking a right on red, which you admit to and yet you want to know why he's an asshole?

Look, I gave up driving years ago, but this attitude that cyclists have is so ridiculous. Bikes aren't cars. Why not just move and let him go rather than sitting there? I think he was right.

fabulous fabs said...

definitely bc he was from VA. don't knock BMWs- i drive a minicooper and those are technically BWMs! (they are also practically bikes, sizewise).

IMGoph said...

well, mr. anonymous, i'd like to defend myself with a few facts.

one, the other biker was there in front of him, and she was not moving either. two, in order to move, we would have to have gone forward into the southbound traffic on 13th street, which would have been foolish and unsafe. third, and i realize this is after the fact, but his driving up on the sidewalk was dangerous and certainly illegal.

were it another car sitting in front of him, and they were going forward instead of turning right, would he have been angered at the fact that they did not get out of his way?

the fact is that you're correct, bikes aren't cars. but both are vehicles that have equal rights to be on the road. i don't generally have a negative attitude about automobile drivers. i own a car myself, and drive it occasionally. but it's easy to tell when someone is respecting your right to be on the road, and when someone is going to try to throw their weight around, metaphorically or not. this man did not believe that cyclists have a right to exist on his stretch of pavement.

Anonymous said...

So, on your bike it was impossible to move directly to your left or right, as opposed to moving in to the street? You couldn't put your feet down and life it up and just move to the side?

Why is that, exactly?

The fact is that there WERE no other cars in front of him and both CHOSE not to move. You were copping an attitude with your "I have every right to be here" mindset instead of just moving a few feet left or right.

Now, he might have overreacted for sure. But you were being just as much of an ass.

Anonymous said...

Imgoph.. DC just seems to bring out the worst in people behind the wheel. Whether you were right or wrong, this guy had no reason to shout obscenities at you. It wouldn't surprise me if he does this to other people.

Freewheel said...

This is just awesome.

IMGoph said...

mr. anonymous (again):

why should i choose to move? i'm not being facetious. the serious fact is that, as a vehicle whose operator intends to continue straight ahead on the road, i am obliged to wait for the signal to turn green, then proceed ahead safely. there is no obligation to shorten the duration of the wait for the operator of the vehicle behind me.

what i was doing (waiting there) was not illegal, and the gentleman from virginia driving his bmw behind me (and the other driver) was unnecessarily rude. if he had rolled down his window and said, "excuse me. i'm in a real hurry, would you mind letting me through," i certainly would have let him pass. but he laid on his horn and called me an asshole more times than i can count. i was wrong to reply in kind. but i certainly owed the gentleman no favors at that point, and moving out of the way for him would have been just that, a favor.

Anonymous said...

So you think your trite comment about the driver making it to VA helped? Seriously, I think you will maim or kill yourself trying to attack motorists verbally.

Anonymous said...

I bike to work every day. If you bike with consideration for drivers, the drivers are nice to you. If you're an asshole, you get called an asshole. Your decision to impede the flow of traffic, even with your self-righteous justifications for doing so, makes you an asshole.

IMGoph said...

(wow, it would be nice if you anonymous posters would use a name or at least a pseudonym here. i can't tell if just one of you dislikes me, or if there are 2. can't be more than 2....)

so my "hold your horses" comment wasn't polite either. i apologize. if you'll notice, his window was up and i directed it away from his car, so i sincerely doubt he heard it.

as for the assertion that i was impeding the flow of traffic, you're wrong. my justifications are not self-righteous, they're legally sound. if you think automobile drivers that are not at the front of a queue have a right to dictate the behavior of those ahead of them, you must be one of those kids who thought they had the right to cut in the lunch line in school too. i'm sorry to use the lame comparison, but there's really no logical way to rebut your statement, so i'll have to resort to emotion.

Tim said...

technically, its ok for one (or two in this case) bicyclist to do what the rider did; STOP AT A RED LIGHT.

i grew up in the much smaller city or richmond, va and its way more notorious for drivers running down bikers and pedestrians crossing streets. most of the accidents happen when, surprise, eager drivers want to turn right on red with little regard for anyone one else. once you start moving your bike on the sidewalk or into other lanes to accommodate one driver (who was still at a red light, you make life more complicated for the bikers and everyone else on the road.

come on drivers. its 30 seconds. 30, let's be honest. it was the driver who was an a-hole in this situation, not the bikers.

Unknown said...

This VA driver is road rage at its worst. IMGoph, you're in the right and the guy behind you needs more patience.

Anonymous said...

First, there are several "anonymous" posters here.

Second, get this striaght; a bike is NOT a vehicle in the way a car is. You could just move over. You can literally pick up your bike and move over. The problem is that so many of you on your bikes think you're cars and you slow up traffic and refuse to move over all damn day. And like you, they all refuse to hear the symphony of horns blasting behind them to let them know they are slowing up traffic. Eventually, you get called an asshole for it.

And everything you're saying here is that you CHOSE to be an asshole and sit there. "Oh, I'm legally right"...sure, but you're an inconsiderate asshole. That horn you hear? That's how cars say MOVE YOUR HUFFY I'M IN A HURRY. You ignored it. Then you got told in no uncertain terms the truth; you're an ASSHOLE.

Anonymous said...

I've biked in rural areas, suburban areas, and this city. While bikers are more mobile and could just get the hell out of the way of cars, they're also much more vulnerable. And the fact is, on account of this vulnerability, bikers tend to have a much better understanding of the law. Its what keeps them, ostensibly, from getting clobbered all the time. So you could do a car a favor by getting out of their way. But would you ask a pedestrian to not use a crosswalk so that a car could squeeze through? Why should you encourage dangerous driving habits and total ignorance of the law? & how much easier is it to spew profanity from inside a steel cage than from a 35 lb street bike?

None said...

"First, there are several "anonymous" posters here. "

I detect an advanced case of obesity-induced high blood pressure, complicated by a long-term sedentary lifestyle. Oh wait, you drive to the gym for a 30 minute session on the free weights, twice per week right? Kewl. You so bad.

"35 lb street bike"

Modern bikes don't weigh 35 pounds.

Come on people, get out there and move around under your own power. If you can't earn a living, or at least have regular access to food and cultural activities without being stuck in a car, you're not really living up to your full potential as a human being.

Oh wait, I'm wrong. You are what you drive. That's it.

IMGoph said...

well, i was out of town on vacation for the last week, and i didn't have a chance to respond to my latest anonymous poster, so i'll have to do it quickly now.

i'm not going to change his/her/its mind. the fact is that person thinks i'm an asshole, and nothing i say will change that p.o.v. that person believes that anything that impedes a car's forward motion is a bad thing. fine, i get that. i believe you're wrong though. you're not going to change my mind any more than i'm going to change yours. let's just hope someday you're not on a bike or walking through a crosswalk and some car decides either not to pay attention to you or refuses to yield to you. good luck.