9.23.2014

Psycho Bike Nazi - A Willful Compulsion to Road Rage

I wasn’t going to bike commute today, but the gorgeous fall weather was too compelling. Sadly, a very ugly individual decided to sully its magnificence.

I was about half way through my commute in when I saw another biker up ahead of me. I smiled, because it is always good to see someone else saving the earth and taking one more car off the roadways.

I was going a bit faster than this woman, and as I approached her from behind, I said, “On your left,” as I usually do to indicate I am about to pass another biker on their left.

When I passed her I said, “Good morning.” I always like to greet my fellow bike commuters, as a form of solidarity and just general good manners.

Her response to my salutation was a sarcastic, “Hello?” I didn’t understand why, but I assumed I just misread her inflection. Because it sounded a lot like she was surprised by my sudden appearance on her left side, even though I had called it out.

Maybe she hadn’t heard me announce that I was passing on her left, because I usually don’t holler it to avoid startling people. But whatever, I was on my way, all good. Or so I thought…

About a block further along, I had to make a left turn onto a somewhat busy road (Old Sauk Road in Madison WI, if you care to know). I was pretty far ahead of the woman I had just passed on her bike, but I had to stop at the stop sign to wait for traffic. So, I got all the way over to the left side of my lane, and slowed down to look for traffic.

I didn’t hear the lady behind me so when it was clear to go, I pulled into the road and started turning left.

All of a sudden I hear the lady yell from behind me, on my left side, “Are you turning?”

I turn my head around quickly and see the lady is inches from my bike, behind me and on my left hand side. “Oh, yes ma’am,” I say. “Sorry, I did not see you there.”

“Why didn’t you signal?” she screams at the top of her lungs, as she brakes and swerves to the right behind my back wheel.

Not sure how to respond, I replied, “Um, well I didn’t know you were passing me. Maybe you should have called out that you were on my left?”

At this point, we were both in the middle of the street I am turning left on, and she is now on my right.

She bellows, “SIGNAL!!!” Yes, it really was a three exclamation point bellowing.

I look back at the psycho lady and adding insult to injury, SHE GOES STRAIGHT! She wasn’t even turning left. She had gotten all the way over to the left, even farther left in the lane than I was to make my left turn, so that she could just go straight. Really? She could have saved herself a ton of trouble by staying to the right or at least the middle of the lane if she was going straight. Why did she go so far left?

No wonder she had a cow. She pretty much set herself up to have one.

Now, to be honest, by the letter of the law, she was technically correct. Bikers should signal their intentions.

But clearly, this lady was looking for a throw down with someone. Maybe she had a bad morning. Her approach could have been less bellicose and adversarial. Had the tables been turned and I somehow idiotically found myself on the left of someone turning left, I would surely have said something like, "On your left here, good sir...just so you know."

I decided to let it go, but I was really glad she was going a different way than me. I would hate to be her family member or significant other.

Perhaps it was a strangely appropos that the street she went straight on was a DEAD END, because if she goes through her whole life with that much anger and angst toward other people, she is going to encounter a lot of DEAD ENDS when it comes to getting along in the world. People don't like angry ugly people, as a general rule, and I generally support disenfranchising them whenever possible.

In any case, this woman clearly is not suited to bike commuting. In her case, I would say that having one more car on the road is OK, as long as she is in it and I am no where near it.

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