Monday, April 30, 2007

If You Can't Take the Traffic, Stay in the 'Burbs

It was beautiful today, one of a handful of truly beautiful days in 2007. Me and my man Martin got on the bikes and ate up the trails, winding 30 miles or so out into suburban Virginia.

There's nothing like having the sun on your arms and the wind in your face for a workout. Being in the gym is okay and all, but it always makes me kind of feel like I'm on a space station somewhere.

The ride itself was pretty uneventful, apart from this completely typical incident on the Key Bridge on the way home. I was riding over the bridge, slowly, on the wide pedestrian/bike lane. I was going slow enough to avoid freaking people out, and calling out to people before I passed, letting them know what was going on.

Then, all of a sudden, this woman on the opposite side of the path(walking back towards Arlington) took a hard right and jumped right in front of me. I yelled out as I braked -- she jumped out of the way a split second before I would have plowed into her. She shouted "fuck you, man!"

"No, actually, fuck YOU," I said. "You jumped in front of me!"

"Well SLOW DOWN," she shouted, loud. "There ought to be a sign up that says 'no bikes allowed!'"

Really. I think one that says "Watch Where You're Going," might be a better idea, or, simply, "No Bitches."

At that point, some kid in those stupid shoes with wheels in the heels could have dusted me. Speed was not the issue. The real issue at hand was that because I was on a bike, I was in the wrong.

This interaction is completely typical for cyclists in D.C. I'm not sure how it is in other cities, but here, you can't win. If that woman were driving when I was riding in the road, she'd be mad at me too. Drivers honk and shout at you to get on the sidewalk, and it's not like it's friendly or safe up there either.

There's one solution that keeps D.C. cyclists and Sunday pedestrians both happy though: when cranks like that lady stay in the suburbs where they fucking belong.

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At 9:52 AM, Anonymous Sweet said...

Ugh totally. I've just started biking for the last month, and people that are oblivious like her drive me crazy!

At 11:27 AM, Blogger Dan said...

I'm a pedestrian way more than a bicyclist and I get being scared of a collision - those things are hard! But when you're walking in an area where lots of other people are you've got to take some personal responsibility for being aware of where other people are going.

No doubt that woman would be just as indignant if someone had bumped into her when she made her sudden directional change.

At 11:35 AM, Blogger sharon said...

Hey move to Denver. Twice as many bikes then peds and the bikers have better riding manners than anywhere else I have been

At 4:45 PM, Blogger Katherine said...

NO SHIT. People need to fucking watch where they're going (walkers, drivers). Why does anyone think it's a good idea to walk down the middle of the sidewalk in a crowded city, oblivious to her surroundings? You can do that at home, or in the woods. But if you are too lazy to glance around occasionally and make sure you're not blocking anyone, I don't want you in my city. (Does that sound bitchy? Good. Every day I ride my bike to work, and I shuttle between the street, where drivers almost kill me on a regular basis, and the sidewalk, where bitches like that one give me major 'tude for trying to be safe.)
PS: I have been hit by a car before and it sucks!

At 10:36 AM, Anonymous shrubs said...

This would be unheard of in San Francicso, where bikers practically have their own union. That woman would have been summarily drawn and quartered and the pieces dumped into the Potomac. Its sad that the same mentality, as well as many others, do not translate to the other coast.

At 12:10 PM, Anonymous Ezra said...

Some commenters here need to take it easy. There's a difference in alertness, signaling, etc. between walking and driving. There might be a land somewhere where policemen give out tickets to pedestrians who deviate from the right side of the sidewalk or fail to adequately signal when they stop and tie their shoes, but that's not a land I want to visit. I mean, I totally thought this was sarcasm: "Why does anyone think it's a good idea to walk down the middle of the sidewalk in a crowded city, oblivious to her surroundings? You can do that at home, or in the woods." Sounds like you could use a nice long walk to relax.

The problem is the road rage. When I'm biking I get people screaming obscenities at me from cars and from the sidewalk, for no reason other than their sense of entitlement. I don't begrudge a 'fuck you' back but it's a mistake to make a life philosophy out of joining a "side" in the dumbest war in the world. My advice: always expect people around you to do dumb shit, and just take it easy.

At 2:42 PM, Anonymous Ceilisundancer said...

Psst -- Jeff -- there isn't room for her in the burbs, either! Not until you get far up on, say, the C&O Canal. (If she leaves her attitude.) Have you tried biking there? Beautiful.


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